The Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets have renewed their scouting efforts of each other. While a Winnipeg scout has visited Pittsburgh a few times this season, things got more serious Tuesday when Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin scouted the Winnipeg vs. New York Islanders game.
Newsday reporter Arthur Staples reported Guerin’s presence.
Of course, it could be nothing but a routine visit. But an AGM looking in on a team which has been looking in on the Penguins is cause for note. The frequency with which the teams scouted each other last season is further cause for discussion. Tuesday, Pittsburgh Hockey Now again noted a Winnipeg scout at PPG Paints Arena, too.
One obvious connection is Derick Brassard.
The Penguins center, then with Ottawa, was in the grasp of Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford thought the Penguins were out of the running until Vegas GM George McPhee intervened.
McPhee essentially handed the Penguins $2 million for Ryan Reaves and to keep Brassard out Winnipeg, so VGK would not face him in the Western Conference Final. The move turned out to be prescient as Vegas and Winnipeg met in the Western Conference Final (and Vegas won). It wouldn’t be far-fetched to think Winnipeg is again interested in Brassard.
Industry sources in Winnipeg don’t feel anything is imminent, though both noted Winnipeg’s defensive corps has been decimated by injury–but short-term injuries. And the Jets have won four straight.
Last season, Winnipeg was also believed to be interested in Olli Maatta.
It should be noted, a pair of industry sources tamped down any talk of immediacy or fire. At least those around the Winnipeg organization believe the scouting is cursory.
However, the Penguins could force the trade market to bend to their timeline if they indeed dangle a player of Brassard’s caliber. PHN competitor DKPittsburghSports.com reported Sunday, the Penguins “are fed up,” with Brassard.
PHN cannot independently verify the coarse assessment but it does raise the issue of a continuing overhaul as the Penguins struggle to stack wins. In addition to defense help, Winnipeg could use an upgrade at second line center. They acquired Paul Statsny at the trade deadline last season after the Penguins plucked Brassard out of Ottawa.