Rutherford taking right approach at deadline

[Penguins willing to move more draft picks]
[Rust injury has Pens entering Eaves market?]

The Penguins have the second best record in the Eastern Conference with nearly the same team as last season and while it’s an injury hit team right now, none of the injuries are season ending.

Some around the league are looking at Jim Rutherford and wondering why he’s in on some of the big names as he is right now when the Penguins have in the eyes of many, one of the two best rosters in the Eastern Conference.

Why potentially mess with a good thing that just won a Stanley Cup?

I for one love Rutherford’s mindset for a Stanley Cup contender heading into the deadline.

As Rutherford said yesterday, you can always improve in certain areas.

“We like our forward group. You can always improve on it,” said Rutherford. “We’ll stay right in the mix right up to the deadline and see what happens.”

For a club with a three-to-four window to get at least one more Stanley Cup under this current core, the GM should never get complacent.

The wheeling and dealing strategy from Rutherford wasn’t the right one during the 2014-2015 season when the Penguins were clearly not a Stanley Cup contender, but last spring changed everything and the willingness to be in the rental and non-rental market for this current group and window the Penguins have is what the Penguins should be doing.

You worry about 2021 in 2021.

The Penguins have a group of prospects who might not be premier high-end prospects but it’s a group that’s ready to contribute by next season with the likes of Oskar Sundqvist, Daniel Sprong, Josh Archibald, Dominik Simon, among others.

Because of that, in a mediocre draft, Pittsburgh despite moving a 2nd round pick for Ron Hainsey, shouldn’t be shy about moving more 2017 draft choices for the right player and indications are they’re not.

The Penguins are confident about adding another defenseman but the intrigue is at the forward position over the next five days.

The Penguins are widely known to be looking at some big fish on the forward market, more so players with term, notably Matt Duchene and there’s been a conservation about Evander Kane, though, the Penguins going that route is considered extremely unlikely.

Despite key restricted free agents this summer, Connor Sheary, Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz, who all project to land new deals this summer with AAV’s of at least $3 million, it doesn’t have Rutherford closing the door on adding a player with term.

“We’re right up against it [salary cap]. There’s always possibilities and you have to get creative. There are always ways to figure out a deal,” Rutherford said during a media scrum on Thursday.

What to watch for is whether the Penguins dip their toes into the rental forward market.

Sources say Brian Rust has a projected six To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!