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Jets Assistant GM Scouts Penguins; Ian Cole Off the Block?

The Winnipeg Jets have been busy scouting several teams across the league, but they went heavy on the Penguins Tuesday.



Pittsburgh Penguins, Ian Cole investigation
(Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

The Winnipeg Jets have been busy scouting several teams across the league. Tuesday night, the Jets VP and Assistant General Manager Larry Simmons, and a Jets professional scout observed the Pittsburgh Penguins win over the Ottawa Senators. 

In fact, the Jets have frequently scouted the Penguins since mid-January.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now spoke with multiple industry sources early Wednesday morning. The only consensus regarding the Jets shopping list or even trade chips is … there is no consensus.

The Jets have no timetable for injured center Adam Lowry to return, which has further clouded the picture.

One industry source indicated the Jets were seeking an inexpensive top-six winger which dovetails perfectly with the Penguins’ organizational depth. The same source indicated Winnipeg’s first-round selection was in play, in exchange for top-six help.

The Jets multiple young forwards and top prospects are assumed to be off limits, including Jack Roslovic and Kyle Connor who has 18 goals and 35 points this season.

If the Penguins are squeamish about dealing their top pick, perhaps Rutherford could repeat his December pass-through maneuver when he traded Josh Archibald for a conditional fourth-round pick, then flipped that fourth rounder to Dallas for Jamie Oleksiak.

Is it plausible for Rutherford to deal a winger for a first round draft choice then flip the pick to a team like the Rangers for Michael Grabner, or to Ottawa as part of a package for Derrick Brassard? The Penguins continue to be softly linked to Brassard. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet believes the Penguins have “poked” around Brassard. 

(Another interesting note about the Tuesday scouting list: local Rangers scout Rick Kehoe, who is often present, was not in the press box. The Rangers instead sent scout Steve Eminger).

Also, the Jets have ample left-handed defenseman but could be looking for defensive depth as insurance against Toby Enstrom’s health. One name mentioned as a possible exchange for an extra defenseman was small center, Nic Petan. Petan, 22, has yet to establish himself in the NHL. The 5-foot-9-inch pivot has only 20 points (4g, 16a) in 89 career games.

According to sources, the Jets recently sent multiple scouts to Vancouver and Buffalo, as well. The Jets also sent three scouts to Tampa Bay vs. Toronto on Monday night.

Kings Get a Defenseman, Cole Off the Block?

Are the Penguins renting Ian Cole from themselves?

The Los Angeles Kings extensively scouted the Pittsburgh Penguins for several weeks from mid-January through mid-February. Tuesday, the Kings turned to the Ottawa Senators to fill their wish for a physical defenseman. The Kings and Senators completed a bad-contract swap: Dion Phaneuf ($7.0 million AAV) and grinder Nate Thompson ($1.65 million) for Marian Gaborik ($4.875 million AAV) and center Nick Shore ($925,000).

Phaneuf and Gaborik each have three years left on their deal, and Ottawa is picking up 25% of Phaneuf’s remainder.

The Kings acquisition of Phaneuf will likely end the Penguins and Kings mutual scouting missions. Penguins director of scouting Derek Clancy attended at least a pair of Ontario Reign games, in the AHL.

Cole has been an aggressive defenseman in all three zones, since being reinserted into the lineup on January 25 after seven games as a healthy scratch He has five points (1g, 4a) in his last seven games, in addition to his customary gritty play in front of the Penguins net. Tuesday night, Cole even dropped the mitts late in the third period against Max McCormack.

After Cole was a healthy scratch earlier this season, his agent, Kevin Magnuson, was permitted to seek a trade.

Cole will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and is unlikely to re-sign with the Penguins. It was a widely held belief the Kings pursued Cole, but it appears the Kings could not match the value which the Penguins will recoup by keeping the red-bearded defenseman.