I asked a question of sources and a couple of my fellow National Hockey Now colleagues. It was a simple enough question as we’re all chasing stories, NHL trade angles, and free agency. We’re speaking to people on the other side of the fence who get to know these things or even make those decisions. The Pittsburgh Penguins trade chatter and offseason have thus far been quiet.
So, I sent out the S.O.S. — Has anybody heard anything from the Penguins?
“Not even a peep,” came one reply.
Things have been quiet. Too quiet.
Now, this could mean two things on the NHL trade market. It could mean that general manager Ron Hextall is methodically working on something big. Such things tend to be quiet if it all possible unless the player goes public. See also Jack Eichel.
The side of this reporter who loves a juicy story and the thrill of the bombshell hopes that is true.
“Penguins close on (Insert big name here)” would be a hell of a headline and would surely provide a few weeks of analysis and excitement.
I KNOW that is what you want to hear, too. You want me to tell you that the Penguins front office, Hextall, Brian Burke, AGM Chris Pryor, and the crew are diligently working on a blockbuster to send Sidney Crosby into the sunset carrying three more silver chalices.
Sorry. No. We’ve heard whispers on the second-hand market about something unique, but I cannot share it because it didn’t come directly from hockey operations. If we come to find more credibility on some Penguins rumors within the org or from other teams, oh hell yes, we’ll report it.
We’ll shout it from the top of the USX Tower, actually.
Instead, things are quiet. The Pittsburgh Penguins appear to be biding their time. We haven’t detected much movement on the NHL trade front or the free-agent side, either.
That’s definitely a change.
Teddy Blueger and Zach Aston-Reese are RFAs with arbitration rights. A source did indicate that things are in a holding pattern with Aston-Reese. Big news, eh? We project Aston-Reese somewhere in the $2.25 million ballpark, but the Penguins are unlikely to protect either in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft on July 21.
The Penguins must submit their list by July 17.
Perhaps it makes little sense to negotiate with a player only to see them snatched away. My gut says while everyone focuses on Jason Zucker–because that’s who fans want to see Seattle select–Blueger is a genuine possibility. A rival GM told Jimmy Murphy in our “Off the Record” column that Seattle is prepared to go young and grow a winner.
Blueger fits that criteria, and he surely won’t cost much, either.
“I expect we’ll lose a very good player,” Ron Hextall said on June 2 as he tamped down any talk the Penguins were interested in side-deals to protect any of their players.
Sure, some rumor sites can put up logos and say a team should be interested, but don’t mistake that for actionable intelligence. We also opine, in long-form, but to date, there is little actual information or direction regarding the Penguins’ efforts on the NHL trade market or free agency pursuits.
The formerly open Jim Rutherford is gone, and Ron Hextall is playing his cards close to the vest. If he’s playing them at all. There is another school of GM’ing not previously seen in Pittsburgh: cautious and steady movement.
Certainly, Craig Patrick, Ray Shero, and Jim Rutherford did not attend that school.
Sources have also gone radio silent regarding the status of Cody Ceci. That could change in a heartbeat, so we don’t know if the Penguins are working towards a deal after the expansion draft (so they don’t have to protect Ceci or expose Matheson) or if the Pittsburgh Penguins are content to let Ceci explore the market and possibly replace him with another reclamation project.
It’s not often a hockey writer will scribble a story saying, “we don’t know!” But, in this case, the admission itself and the lack of information is the story. In days past, we had multiple leads and sometimes conflicting sources pounding the table that they were right (you don’t know half of it).
Now, it’s quiet. Too quiet. Read into it what you will.