The Pittsburgh Penguins were thrust into the trade market last night after top defenseman Kris Letang was injured in the first-period brawl which followed Wayne Simmonds aggressive hit on defenseman Brian Dumoulin.
Before the game was over, Pittsburgh Hockey Now was told by a source close to the Penguins front office the Penguins were pursuing right-side defensemen. The severity of Letang’s injury is not yet known, but there was a concern in the Penguins organization.
One name which has re-emerged is Brandon Montour of the Anaheim Ducks. Pittsburgh Hockey Now has heard for months the Penguins were interested in Montour but weren’t able to get a deal done. Today, the Penguins urgency may be heightened enough to make an aggressive push for Montour.
Montour, 24, is a fast-skating playmaker with a booming shot. In 62 games this season, the third-year defenseman has 25 points (5g, 20a) which fit with his 32 points (9g, 23a) last season. Not only would Montour be a perfect fit for the Penguins quiet youth movement–most moves this season has involved a player 26-years-old or younger–he is signed through next season at a reasonable $3.387 million.
Montour may remind some of a younger Kris Letang as he is a high-risk, high reward defenseman. This season, he’s a minus-16.
But the Penguins have coveted Montour for a while. Anaheim not only fell out of the playoff chase last month, but they’ve also nearly hit rock bottom. They are currently next to last in the Western Conference with 57 points, just five ahead of the LA Kings.
Montour would certainly cost the Penguins significant assets, perhaps their first-round pick and more.
Anaheim and Pittsburgh have already completed two trades this season, including the Dec. 4 swap of Daniel Sprong for Marcus Pettersson. Rutherford and Anaheim GM Bob Murray–who is also coaching the team for the remainder of the season–have completed four deals in the past four seasons. Rutherford and Murray first hooked in March 2015 when the Penguins acquired Ben Lovejoy for Simon Despres. Their second deal was a swap of players who needed a change of scenery–the Penguins acquired Carl Hagelin for David Perron in January 2016.
Adding further fuel to the Montour possibility, former Jim Rutheford player Mike Commodore who dabbles in trade talk (and won the Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006), tweeted:
Folks…just got off the horn with one of my sources in Pittsburgh….Pitt looking for help on blueline….they are inquiring about Brandon Montour of Anaheim….stay tuned…#Insiderrr is on it
— Mike Commodore (@commie22) February 24, 2019
Another right side defensemen to keep an eye on–Colin Miller, who has recently been a healthy scratch in Vegas. Rutherford and Vegas GM George McPhee have already completed two trades in Vegas’ short existence. Rutherford sent a second-round pick to Vegas to ensure they would select Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft. And Vegas kicked in $2 million towards Derick Brassard in exchange for Ryan Reaves.
Miller, 26, is in the first year of a four-year, $15.5 million contract. His play has recently bottomed out, which might make him a target, however, PHN has not heard his name in trade talks.