Inside Pittsburgh Sports


The St. Louis Blues enter tonight’s game vs Pittsburgh with the fourth most points in the Western Conference, yet, chatter among executives point to Blues GM Doug Armstrong being open for business on a lot of different fronts.

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, a UFA in July 2017, is likely to command $6-$7 million per season and has had his name out there in trade talks for weeks now with the Blues seeking young impact forwards in return.

Another name to watch before the February 29 deadline is David Backes who the Blues are said to be willing to move to the Eastern Conference [hide] if the right deal comes their way.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman threw the Penguins out there last week as a team that he could see looking into Backes.

For the Capitals who owe it to themselves to go all in this season with already being head and shoulders above everyone else in the East, there’s no question they should be strongly looking into the likes of Backes (Caps have need for 3rd line center) and Dustin Byfuglien (Expected to be a top target of the Capitals).

As for the Penguins?

A diminishing player who turns 32 in May, Backes is the type of player the Penguins should be avoiding when it comes to the cost and unless they moved a big salary like Phil Kessel in the summer, they would have no ability to sign Backes in the summer.

Despite the offensive numbers already declining, there’s going to be a team or two throwing a 5 year, $30 million type deal at Backes in the summer.

That said, at least for the short-term as a rental, one thing to consider from the Penguins end is Backes $4.5 million cap hit is manageable for the Penguins with a little creativity. One NHL source said again today Rutherford is already planting seeds of being a GM who will be all-in on the big names out there.

You don’t think Rutherford would love to go into the post-season with Sidney Crosby – Evgeni Malkin – David Backes down the middle? Did some checking and there is certainly intrigue.

Again the view from Rutherford and others (not all) in the organization is that this group has just had some bad luck this season and can beat anyone in the East. The Penguins are going to continue to be buyers and almost every prospect and non-core player will be in play for the right deal.

For the Blues to move Backes, indications are the cost would be an impact NHL top-9 player in his prime that the Blues would control (contract) and can help them now along with a combination of a high pick/ top prospect.

Would a package centered around Nick Bonino and Derrick Pouliot get the Blues attention? Sure wouldn’t seem like enough to get into the mix but Doug Armstrong doesn’t have the reputation of a GM you want to trade with for nothing.


Kris Letang will be in the lineup tonight. Derrick Pouliot recalled today will not play. The Penguins are dressing the same lineup upfront with Zatkoff in goal.[/hide]