Today was to be a day of loss for Penguins fans. Trevor Daley, Nick Bonino will sign with new teams and it’s likely Chris Kunitz does the same. However, Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford spilled the beans to Pittsburgh Triblive.com beat reporter Jonathan Bombulie: The Penguins will address their need for a third line center via trade. The Pens mystery trade has clues, but no leaks. Is it Matt Duchene or Alex Galchenyuk? Or could Rutherford pull a huge surprise with Pittsburgh fan favorite, Jordan Staal?
Here is the initial report from beat writer extraordinaire Jonathan Bombulie at TribLive.com. Please give him the clicks he earned!
Each of the above has been linked to the Penguins. Unfortunately for fans waiting breathlessly, Rutherford has been adept at keeping negotiations private in all but one of his trades (Phil Kessel). The old horse trader has the Midas touch with the Penguins. Since a rough early going, Rutherford has exceeded expectations since hiring head coach Mike Sullivan. All needs have been met. So, who will it be? Here are the clues:
The rumor won’t die because the Penguins keep calling Colorado Avalanche General Manager Joe Sakic.
— Jimmy Murphy (@MurphysLaw74) June 30, 2017
Jimmy was one of the first to begin hinting at the Fleury to Vegas deal, last winter. He has ties to many Boston hockey folks, who are employed around hockey.
Clue #2: Elliotte Friedman wrote the same a few days ago, on Sportsnet.
Sakic is reportedly holding to a high price for the Avs leading scorer; a first round pick, a prospect and an NHL defenseman. Translated, that would be Olli Maatta and a prospect such as Daniel Sprong–which is far too high. With Duchene’s $6 million dollar salary, the Penguins would have precious few dollars.
Clue #3: The Penguins were linked to Duchene via Olli Maatta last winter, as well
Also, the Columbus Blue Jackets have recently joined the fray. The Blue Jackets are chasing the Penguins and a top line or second line center like Duchene would go a long way for the Blue Jackets to catch their tormenting big brother.
While it continues to seem implausible for the Penguins, there is too much smoke to ignore as impossible. Perhaps Rutherford has buckled Sakic or the Avs have come down on price. A third line center who doesn’t bleed for his team and doesn’t take the bulk of defensive zone draws doesn’t seem to fit the Penguins needs.
Clue #1: The Penguins were linked to Galchenyuk last week, but then the story went quiet. Did it go quiet because discussions ended, or because things got serious?
Galchenyuk, 23, has been bounced around the Canadiens lineup, from wing to center and back. Last season, the Milwaukee native notched 44 points in 61 games.
Clue #2: The Canadiens are chasing Nick Bonino.
If the Habs expect to sign Nick Bonino, they could look to move a player like Galchenyuk to create roster and salary cap space.
However, the talented forward is unproven at the pivot position and does not block shots or use the body regularly. The Penguins would be making a leap of faith acquiring Galchenyuk to replace Bonino’s two-way contributions.
What if–What if Galchenyuk wasn’t the reason the Penguins called Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin? The Canadiens also have 24-year-old Phillip Danault, who is more suited to playing behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Danault posted career numbers, 40 points (13g, 27a) last season. He also had 76 hits and 52 blocked shots, which far exceeds Galchenyuk’s totals.
My Gawd, That’s Jordan Staal’s Music!
Five years ago, as the General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, Rutherford traded for Jordan Staal then signed him to a 10-year $60 million contract.
Rutherford’s ties to the Hurricanes go deep, just as Hurricanes General Manager, Ron Francis‘ ties to the Penguins go deep. Staal’s ties to the Penguins core also goes deep.
Wonder if PIT’s after Teravainen for 3C. CAR has Staal/Rask ahead. Teuvo floated in trade talks last yr. Plus Rutherford-Francis connection.
— Mike Halford (@HalfordPHT) June 30, 2017
Clue 1: Rutherford engaged in talks for Staal a couple years ago.
Clue 2: Francis reportedly asked Hurricanes ownership for more money, this week.
It could be Teravainen, but at 22-years-old, “Teuvo” fits the Hurricanes rebuild. On the other hand, Staal has not fully lived up to his second line center contract and aspirations. In five seasons in Raleigh, Staal has not exceeded 48 points. In six seasons in Pittsburgh, from 2006-2012, Staal surpassed that mark three times.
Playing with brother Eric in Carolina was important to Staal, but Eric was traded to
Minnesota the New York Rangers at the 2016 trade deadline.
At 28-years-old, Staal is more suited to a “win now” team, like the Penguins. Carolina would do well to get out from under Staal’s contract, as they rebuild. Conor Sheary, with speed, youth and offense would fit well in Carolina. Or, Carl Hagelin‘s $4 million salary heading to Carolina would lessen the Penguins salary cap hit. The ‘Canes could also eat some of Staal’s contract.
Factor in the Hurricane’s willingness to spend money if it makes them better, and this begins to make more sense.
Rutherford moves swiftly, but not recklessly. Unlike some General Managers, Rutherford allows his counterpart a fair deal, which aides efficiency. It seems just a matter of hours now.