While it has been reported over the past several weeks that the Penguins have been aggressive in talking trades and that they could try to do something sooner than later, GM Jim Rutherford acknowledged to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that making further changes may not be what the team actually needs at the moment:
“Some of the things that I see, I don’t believe changing player personnel is going to do it. As a group, we have to be more consistent and do what we do best.”
Mackey notes a couple of factors that could work against the Penguins in any trade discussions. For starters, they have limited trade chips aside from defenseman Ian Cole. They’re not likely to be willing to part with their pending unrestricted free agents and while they’d likely want to move Carl Hagelin’s contract ($4MM through 2018-19), they’re going to have a hard time finding some takers. Prospect Daniel Sprong will certainly garner interest but considering how he has fared since being recalled, they’re going to want to hold onto him as well.
The other issue at play will be the salary cap. As is the case with a lot of contenders, their room to work with is limited; per CapFriendly, they can add a player making just over $2.3MM but that’s only if they wait until trade deadline day to make that move. Most impact players make considerably more which means that Rutherford may need to be creative if he wants to add someone of consequence to the roster. Otherwise, they will have to try to turn things around with the personnel they have.
More from Pittsburgh:
- Also from Mackey’s column, Rutherford confirmed that there “hasn’t been any movement” when it comes to contract extension discussions for winger Patric Hornqvist. The 31-year-old is on pace for his fifth straight 20-goal season which should have him positioned for a raise on his current $4.25MM cap hit. With more than $60MM committed to 13 players for next season already, the Pens will be in tough to commit to another big-ticket deal without clearing some money off the books for next season.
- Hagelin finds himself with just seven points (2-5-7) through 43 games, well below his career averages. Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review speculates that fatigue could be a factor as he has played the fourth most games of any player (regular season and playoffs) over the past six seasons. For his part, Hagelin doesn’t want to use fatigue as a reason for his struggles but has admitted that he has lacked energy at times this year. It will be interesting to see if Pittsburgh rests him a bit in the second half hoping that doing so will get him going a bit more.