After an 0-2 start, anxiety is growing about the immediate future of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The team’s best line has been the third line with minimum wage Mark Jankowski at center, but on Saturday night Penguins trade chatter picked up as GM Jim Rutherford was officially linked to bigger fish.
According to Elliotte Friedman on Hockey Night in Canada, Rutherford and the Penguins are one of the teams most interested in Winnipeg Jets holdout center Jack Roslovic.
Roslovic, 23, was the Winnipeg first-round pick in 2015 (25th overall) but reportedly wants a greater role and a more generous contract. Roslovic is an RFA and is home in Columbus while he holds out.
“Roslovic is unsigned. He’s asked for a trade. He’s not with the Jets,” Friedman said on the famous Headlines segment. “The Pittsburgh Penguins have started the season 0-2. We know Jim Rutherford is not afraid. I also believe the Penguins are one of the teams very interested to see if there’s a match.”
The basis of a potential Penguins trade would appear to be on the blue line. Winnipeg appears to need defensemen, and the Penguins have nine, including P-O Joseph on the taxi squad.
Derek Forbort and Neil Pionk are the second Winnipeg defense pairing. Nathan Beaulieu with Sami Niku is the third pair, and top-pair defenseman Tucker Poolman was placed in COVID protocol on Saturday. According to Corsica Hockey, none of the pairings rank in the top half of the NHL.
As a third-line center, Roslovic scored 24 and 29 points in the last two seasons, his first to full NHL campaigns.
PHN should note we can add further corroboration to Friedman’s report. During the autumn offseason, second-hand Penguins sources told PHN that Rutherford was interested in a Penguins trade for Roslovic. However, we could not get firm confirmation from primary sources.
Stick tap to Friedman for the legitimate report to tie the Penguins to Roslovic.
You can watch our friends at Sportsnet on Hockey Night in Canada, who have also been very generous in crediting our network with scoops in Florida and San Jose.