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Big-Name Rumors Swirl at NHL Draft; Pens Keeping Cap Space Available



NHL headshots courtesy of Getty Images, Jeff Skinner, far left, and Max Pacioretty, far right. Phil Kessel, center, Photo by Michael Miller

The Pittsburgh Penguins have not committed money to any of their restricted free agents thereby preserving their nearly $10 million salary cap space. See PHN’s reporting this week regarding Bryan Rust, Riley Sheahan and Jamie Oleksiak. As the 31 NHL general managers arrived in Dallas yesterday, trade rumors both diversified and intensified. Later tonight, every team could make a franchise changing move or pick a player who brings suffering fans a Stanley Cup.

Such is the hope of summer.

Industry sources are talking about the Penguins. However, there is nothing which rises to the level of reportable. Thus far it is rumors, gossip, and innuendo.  Everyone is wondering the same thing: Could the Penguins trade Phil Kessel? And the answer is maybe.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now was the first to report the internal issues with Kessel and the coaching staff. We took the heat, but subsequent reports in different outlets eventually told the same tale. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford did his best to downplay trade talk, and in recent weeks has successfully done so. But other teams also call, and they also talk.

There are no credible reports of a Phil Kessel trade brewing as of 5.a.m, Eastern Time. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. There are, however, a lot of question about the possibility. There is also no shortage of small Twitter accounts claiming to have scoops (Stick tap to our subscriber Tom who loves to send them to us for a good laugh).

The name which keeps popping up with industry sources is Derick Brassard. Montreal is a powerful presence, and Pittsburgh Hockey Now has been told several times Montreal likes Brassard. Now, that means nothing as of this writing. Montreal is apparently in on Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly. Just as we heard the Penguins liked Max Domi for months, the same scuttle surrounds Brassard, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

PHN’s Matt Gajtka wrote a piece which detailed the numerical downsides of trading Brassard.

Montreal is a Player

The Canadiens have a glut of wingers, a lack of centers, so Max Pacioretty is now center stage in the rumor mill. Sportsnet wrote today–“Is this the end for Max Pacioretty and the Montreal Canadiens?”.  Word out of Montreal, not Pittsburgh, is the Canadiens view Brassard as a Plan B. They have high picks and are working the phones feverishly to improve their team.

To tie the rumors together, the L.A. Kings desperately need offense but do not possess a tradeable center. Thus Kessel is still churning in the Kings rumor mill.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has linked the Penguins to Jeff Skinner. Skinner is a 20-goal scoring, defensively soft left wing. Unless the Penguins intend to give up 300 goals next season or wrap Matt Murray in rolls of bubble wrap to absorb a ridiculous amount of shots, the Penguins would need to balance their lineup by giving up a defensively soft right wing.

The Ottawa Senator, like the Canadiens, will be a significant player in the draft. They are adding names to the rumor mill as if they profit from it. We do know an Erik Karlsson trade has real potential, and a deal of that magnitude could upset everything else.

To be abundantly clear, Pittsburgh Hockey Now is not reporting any of the above to be fact. Or likely. We are merely acknowledging the talk.

And the rumors swirl.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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