According to published reports in The Athletic and Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s sources close to the Penguins front office, Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford is not a happy camper. From all indications, a trade seems imminent, pending Rutherford’s completion of due diligence.
In a bombshell report by Josh Yohe of The Athletic, Rutherford said the Penguins would likely have made a deal by now if they hadn’t swept the four-game Canadian road trip. (Read the full story here. PHN is happy to also recommend The Athletic).
To a lesser degree, sources told Pittsburgh Hockey Now Rutherford believes the Penguins’ chemistry is wrong. The source reported Rutherford feels his team lacks “willpower” and “inspiration.” Rutherford does not appear to have receded from his harsh assessment of his team Thursday when he put them on notice during his network pre-game show.
Far from a trade “rumor”, the Penguins GM is operating in plain sight. He has confirmed to all the Penguins are aggressively shopping.
One team also on the trade market is the Los Angeles Kings, who recently fired head coach John Stevens. Tanner Pearson, 26, is thought to be available, but Pearson has just one point in his first 15 games and is a left wing.
Daniel Sprong’s name has also surfaced in trade reports. However, his value is low and such a move would not provide the “shakeup” Rutherford appears intent on making.
The Penguins have lost five in a row for the first time in Mike Sullivan’s tenure. PHN’s Shelly Anderson asked Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin directly about Rutherford’s comments, yesterday. (Read that story and watch the unfiltered locker room video here).
Hockey trades this early in the season are rare. Last season, the Penguins waited throughout the summer and eight games into the season before they acquired center Riley Sheahan from Detroit. The trade had been in the works pending Detroit’s signing of a key RFA (Andreas Anthanasiou).
Rutherford has a tall order, but based on sources and reports, he may not be concerned about winning the trade, only making one…or more.