The Pittsburgh Penguins are conscious of the future and their lack of prospects. However, after speaking with a source close to the Penguins front office, it is believed the Penguins and GM Jim Rutherford are in win-now mode, with emphasis on now. And, we were told as part of the effort to re-tool quickly, the Penguins trade options include dealing their first round pick.
Saturday, the Penguins dealt defenseman Olli Maatta for sneaky forward Dominik Kahun. Now the Penguins are running short of trade chips. Rutherford is in a bind after winger Phil Kessel refused to accept a trade to Minnesota and there is a lack of acceptable suitors. The Penguins GM is attempting to refresh a team and locker room which was summarily bounced out of the playoffs in just four games.
Somewhat surprisingly, the source close to the front office indicated the Penguins 2019 first-round draft pick is “100% in play.”
The Penguins have not had a first round selection since 2014 and Rutherford’s in-season comments indicated the Penguins placed particular emphasis on keeping this pick. But that was before Kessel blocked the Penguins from making a shake-up style move when he nixed the Minnesota deal for Jason Zucker.
The Penguins have a shrinking championship window as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are in their 30s and Rutherford must decide just how important the future is when compared to the present.
The present is currently winning the battle and the Penguins may continue their streak of not picking on the first day of the NHL draft if Rutherford can find a deal which helps the Penguins win now. The Penguins were anxious to add depth to their organization but may choose to deal the pick for additional secondary scoring or more speed in the lineup, according to the source.
The Penguins have the 21st overall pick at the 2019 NHL Draft which begins Friday in Vancouver. The last time the Penguins had a first-round selection, they snagged Finnish prospect Kasperi Kapanen with the 21st overall pick in 2014. Kapanen was the centerpiece of the Penguins offer to Toronto for Kessel in the summer of 2015.
Rutherford also dealt the Penguins 2015 first pick to Edmonton for David Perron. The Penguins sent their 2016 first selection to Toronto as part of the package for Kessel. In 2017, the Penguins hooked up with St. Louis to deal Oskar Sundqvist and the 31st overall pick for Ryan Reaves and the 55th overall pick. And the Penguins traded their 2018 first rounder to Ottawa as part of the Derick Brassard deal.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now will have full coverage from Vancouver of any trades or picks, including video interviews.