With Olli Maatta (hand surgery) and Justin Schultz (concussion) out for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the next few weeks will test their defensive depth unless they can make a move to bring in someone at the deadline. That’s exactly what Jim Rutherford is trying to do, according to Jonathan Bombulie of TribLIVE, who spoke with the Pittsburgh GM earlier today.
We’re going to have to go through these next two weeks and go along on the time frame of everyone else. We’ll be looking at adding one or two more defensemen.
Rutherford has been on the phones already trying to add to his blueline, but with the market not having quite materialized just yet, it’s been tough sledding. Just finding one defenseman on the market that doesn’t come with red flags is difficult, acquiring two seems almost impossible. The Penguins don’t exactly need all-stars on the back end, but if they don’t want to see Kris Letang have to log 30 minutes a night (like he did yesterday against the Columbus Blue Jackets) for the rest of the season they need capable defenders.
The Penguins’ GM goes on to say that his search won’t be focused entirely on defense at the deadline and is open to anything. It does sound like he will be an active participant on March 1st, hoping to propel his group to another Stanley Cup. Last season he acquired Schultz, Trevor Daley and Carl Hagelin in-season, though all three came before deadline day (with Daley and Hagelin well before).
Look for them to target rentals mostly, as they are already going to have some tough decisions heading into the expansion draft. Anyone under contract for more than this year would likely be at risk in the Vegas draft.
For now, they will turn to the group of Steve Oleksy, Chad Ruhwedel and Cameron Gaunce to fill the holes, though the former two only got 14 minutes each yesterday. The pairing of Letang and Brian Dumoulin were leaned on heavily, something that will be interesting to follow down the stretch.