Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has not been a patient observer this season. After watching his powerhouse stumble through last season in a fog of Stanley Cup hangover, exhaustion, and denial, Rutherford has been methodically working during this season to reshape the Penguins for one more run at Lord Stanley.
Tanner Pearson and Marcus Pettersson have been upgrades obtained on the trade market, even though each cost the Penguins something they didn’t want to lose (Carl Hagelin for Pearson and Daniel Sprong for Pettersson).
And so during the Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada, Saturday, Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman listed eight teams which are driving the NHL trade market and dominating the chatter.
Pittsburgh was of course among them.
“Just asking around, the teams that seem to be at the center of a lot of these conversations: L.A, Philly, Minnesota, Boston, Pittsburgh, Florida, St. Louis, and Chicago,” said Friedman. “All for different reasons, but those seem to be the most active teams and anything that’s kind of happening around the league is kind of flowing through them.”
For different reasons, for sure. The desperation of St. Louis to save their once promising season. L.A. hoping to avoid winning the Jack Hughes sweepstakes despite an expensive, veteran-laden roster. Florida is so very close to being a contender. Philly and Minnesota (Chuck Fletcher current and Chuck Fletcher former) feel they should be more competitive and are aggressively trying to remain relevant.
And Chicago is flailing about in the final moments of their dynasty, which is a position the Penguins are very much hoping to avoid.
So, it is a testament to Rutherford that despite a flurry of activity, there are no specific trade reports which link his team to any specific player. Not a middle line winger, not a third line center, not even a right-handed defenseman.
Friedman has been especially plugged in this season. Last week, his report that the Penguins tested the waters on Phil Kessel reverberated around the hockey world…or at least Pittsburgh. The NHL holiday roster freeze is less than two weeks away.