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Rutherford Won’t Close Door on Malkin Trade During National Podcast

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Pittsburgh Penguins trade GM Jim Rutherford NHL trade rumors

The podcast hosts specifically gave Jim Rutherford the chance to close the door on any speculation or wonder if the Pittsburgh Penguins would trade Evgeni Malkin. He didn’t.

Rutherford appeared on the Two Man Advantage podcast, which is hosted by The Athletic and hosted by national writers Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun. Not only did Rutherford refuse to slam the door, but he also left it ajar and wondered aloud if his star players have the enough desire to win more Stanley Cups.

You can listen to the entire podcast here.

Rutherford didn’t exactly put Malkin on the Penguins trade block, but his stated willingness to listen to offers is a departure from last spring when Malkin and the team appeared to finalize their future together.

“Geno had a terrific year. He came in, in great shape and a great mood. He was the MVP of our team in the regular season and he’s still got a lot of hockey left in him,” Rutherford began before he opened the door. “The best way to answer the question is: I’m not shopping him. I’m not shopping our core players, but we all know that in our game, one of the great, if not the greatest players (Wayne) Gretzky was traded. You want to always listen if somebody’s got something to offer.

“I’m not in a hurry and not trying to trade any of those top guys.”

Malkin was the Penguins’ primary offensive producer for a large chunk of the season. While captain Sidney Crosby missed 28 games due to core muscle surgery, Malkin went on a tear. He scored 38 points in 26 games during Crosby’s absence and 74 points in 55 games this season. Malkin also had a hand in 40% of the Penguins offense during Crosby’s injury time.

The Penguins players voted Malkin the team MVP on Sunday.

However, the Penguins exited the NHL postseason quietly for the second consecutive season. Rutherford panned his team’s compete level in his postseason press conference. He questioned his team’s heart again on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, two years in a row, we ran into two goalies who were terrific, but the thing that bothered me the most about the (last) two years is … it didn’t go our way, and we didn’t have that same fight in us as the series wound down. (We didn’t have) that same determination or the same fight, win at all costs right to the very end. That was a little troubling for me.”

Rutherford also discussed the parallels between his team and the rival Washington Capitals, who won the Stanley Cup in 2018. Washington has also made two straight early playoff exits despite a talented veteran core.

The New York Islanders bounced Washington in five games, and Rutherford wondered aloud if most star players who have won Cups can be as hungry to win more.

Read into his answer as much or as little as you will.

“Sid is going to give all he got, and he will drive to win as many Stanley cups as he can. You wonder about guys, they have won two, three Cups and they have a great legacy already,” Rutherford said. “You still want to win, but do you still have that same drive as when you were trying to win the first one. And the second one. And the third. I sit there and wonder sometimes.

With that being said, we have a lot of guys who are still really good players and are capable of doing it, but it’s hard to maintain it.”

The other player with a “legacy” on the Pittsburgh Penguins not named Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby is Kris Letang, who took a step back this season. Letang had 44 points (15g, 29a) in 61 games and didn’t register a point in the four postseason games against Montreal. Letang’s 44 points were his lowest total since his Norris Trophy-caliber 2016-17 was cut short by a neck injury.

Rutherford was candid and blunt. Host Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic asked him to put the Penguins trade speculation surrounding Malkin to bed, and Rutherford refused. It spoke loudly, even to the hosts.

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Katz
Katz
1 year ago

YES!!!

Valtteri
Valtteri
1 year ago

It makes sense. If GMJR could get a deal half the size of the Matt Duchene trade for Malkin, it would be hard not to accept it.

Iwasiam
Iwasiam
1 year ago
Reply to  Valtteri

You think that Gonchar getting fired was writing on the wall? Him and Geno were really good friends and Genos wife wants to live in Fla.

Jim
Jim
1 year ago
Reply to  Iwasiam

That had nothing to do with it. It was more for a warning to Sullivan. Than anyone else

Joe
Joe
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim

The real reason Gonchar is gone was because he did not want to move to Pittsburgh to be a full-time coach… his family lives in Texas with his family and they don’t want to leave there….

Ricardo58
Ricardo58
1 year ago

Speaks volumes to me. Consecutive off seasons now where 71 may be available to other teams suggests the GM is kicking the idea around. I think the team can retool around 87 and be right in the thick of things going forward. Personally, I’d prefer 58 moved before 71. However, 71 would bring a greater return than 58 IMO. Go Pens.

Iwasiam
Iwasiam
1 year ago
Reply to  Ricardo58

Yes yes yes, definitely

anonymous
anonymous
1 year ago
Reply to  Iwasiam

couldn’t agree more

Jim
Jim
1 year ago

Geno has a NTC in his contract and he would have to wave it for the trade to go thru. It would have to be a substantial player or players for him plus I bet the Penguins will not retain any of his salary

Ryan
Ryan
1 year ago

Much like it was for Oilers when they traded Gretzky. If the penguins trade Malkin it means the Stanley cup era is over for the team. Facts are you could get the top prospect and a top caliber player plus the other teams entire draft and still lose the trade when trading a player like Malkin or for that fact Crosby. You want to ship a core player out it should be Letang. Simply put. He has become a liability in the way he plays and age. He can’t make up physically for the risks he always takes. And we… Read more »

Dan Kingerski
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  Ryan

Edmonton did win the 1990 Stanley Cup, before the downfall.

Anthony
Anthony
1 year ago

Trade leturd not Malkin the defense is the problem along with the 3rd line

Kurt Hartz
Kurt Hartz
1 year ago
Reply to  Anthony

It makes you wonder if that’s the reason Rutherford was willing to use the 1st rd.pick for Kapanen?

trackback

[…] Chase Wilpert of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was on the Two Man Advantage podcast with Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside. Rutherford had the opportunity to squash any Evgeni Malkin trade speculation but didn’t. […]

trackback

[…] Chase Wilpert of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was on the Two Man Advantage podcast with Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside. Rutherford had the opportunity to squash any Evgeni Malkin trade speculation but didn’t. […]

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