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Penguins Free Agent Targets

Rutherford Not (Yet) Chasing Former Penguins Defensemen

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Pittsburgh Penguins free agency, Trevor Daley, Ron Hainsey

A pair of former Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen on the NHL free-agent market arguably could upgrade the Penguins third pair or provide stable NHL caliber depth. However, sources confirmed to Pittsburgh Hockey Now that neither Ron Hainsey nor Trevor Daley is a current priority for Penguins GM Jim Rutherford.

Sources with direct knowledge of the processes, or lack thereof, spoke with PHN Sunday night and Monday morning to clarify the potential that fans could see one of the former Stanley Cup winners return to black and gold.

“No contact” was the response regarding interest in Hainsey.

Hainsey has become a staple of the Ottawa Senators’ defense over the past couple of seasons. Much like Ben Lovejoy shepherded a young Brian Dumoulin, Hainsey became the elder statesman in the Candian capital.

Last July, which seems like a lifetime ago, Hainsey signed a one-year $3.5 million deal to stay in Ottawa. Last season, he had 12 points (1g, 11a) in 64 games. The left-handed Hainsey could play both sides, but the Penguins’ appetite for hunger and youth has prevented them from giving the former Montreal, Columbus, Atlanta, Winnipeg, Carolina, Toronto, and now Ottawa defenseman a call.

Trevor Daley, 36. is not yet a priority for Rutherford, but the door isn’t closed. PHN can confirm at least cursory contact between the two parties, but thus far, that is all we can confirm.

A league source with direct knowledge of the process said the communication lines are open, but Rutherford “has other things on his agenda.”

We also cannot confirm which side initiated the contact.

Last season, Daley suffered through one of the worst seasons in modern NHL history with the Detroit Red Wings. The team was just 17-49-5 in 71 games before the pandemic pause.

For Daley’s part, he played just 43 games last season after he sustained a pair of injuries, one in October and one in November. He scored seven points and was a minus-22.

Of course, nearly the entire Detroit team was in double-digit minus territory.

We’re unwilling to close the door completely on Daley at this time of year because one phone call could change the process and story. With the speed at which Rutherford sometimes works, things can change quickly.

Daley is a swift skating defenseman, and though he carries a lefty stick, he often plays the right side. He was an emotional leader for the 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins team, which beat Nashville in six games for the Stanley Cup. Despite suffering an injury which prevented him from finishing the series, Daley was the first person to whom captain Sidney Crosby handed the Stanley Cup. 

Being the first to receive the Cup is a great honor. Daley, whose mother was gravely ill, returned to the ice in full pads and uniform to accept the Cup and take his first skate with the 35 pounds of silver.

The defenseman remains one of the few right-side defensemen on the UFA market as the options and choices dwindle for teams looking for right side help. Chad Ruhwedel is currently the Penguin’s most obvious choice for the third-pairing right-side defenseman.

On Friday, the Penguins signed center Mark Jankowski and forward Evan Rodrigues to one-year, $700,000 deals. Rutherford also re-signed forward Anthony Angello to a two-year, $1.45 million deal on Saturday.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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