Amidst the shocking news that Jim Rutherford had resigned as GM of Pittsburgh Penguins, it is easy to forget that this was a team that less than a week ago was reported as being active on the trade market. While ownership suddenly needs to focus on the long-term welfare of the franchise by finding a new GM, the Penguins are still in need of defense in the short-term. While Rutherford’s final move was to find a stopgap in free agent addition Yannick Weber, that might not be enough. The Pittsburgh blue line has been devastated by injuries early this season with Michael Matheson, Juuso Riikola, and Zach Trotman on injured reserve, Marcus Pettersson also officially out, and Brian Dumoulin injured in last night’s game. Even the thought-to-be-healthy John Marino was missing at practice today. What’s left is a group that is almost entirely right-handed, including the newcomer Weber, and includes a struggling Cody Ceci and an untested rookie in Pierre-Olivier Joseph. The Penguins need to to continue to be on the look out for help on the back end. With that said, NBC Sports’ Adam Gretz doubts that interim GM Patrick Allvin will have the authority to make a trade, until they potentially remove the interim tag that is. In the meantime, can the Penguins afford to stand pat in a shortened season facing tougher playoff odds and a more difficult division? Can they withstand extended absences from their current injured defenders? Unless owner Mario Lemieux decides to step in and pull the strings while also making a decision on his next GM, they may not have an option but to stick it out.
- Through their first six games of the season, the Montreal Canadiens have yet to lose in regulation and have earned 10 of a possible 12 points. Everyone in Montreal is happy so far this year, that is except defenseman Victor Mete. With the team rolling on all cylinders, the Habs have had no reason to change out their starting six defenseman. In fact, there has been only one lineup change among skaters for one single game thus far. The Canadiens do not want to lose the promising, young Mete on waivers, but so far that has left 22-year-old sitting in the press box for every game. If Montreal continues to win and stay healthy, then there is also no reason for that to change. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has taken notice and he’s not alone. Friedman reports that there is interest in Mete across the league and offers will be coming to Montreal soon, if they haven’t already. After losing Noah Juulsen on waivers earlier this year, the Habs may be hesitant to part with another young defenseman whose career has been impacted by injuries but could be primed for a breakout. However, if Mete won’t get any opportunity to shine in Montreal, they may as well move him. After all, he will likely be available for free to the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft anyway.
- If there is one thing that has quietly defined the Don Sweeney administration in Boston, it is that they are not afraid to move young forwards who are unable to carve out a consistent role in the lineup. In consecutive years, the Bruins have traded away Frank Vatrano, Ryan Donato, and Danton Heinen, each of whom was struggling and bouncing around the lineup prior to being moved. Now, Anders Bjork could be the next name on that list. The team has liked the upside of Bjork, 24, and made that clear with a three-year, $4.8MM contract this summer. However, injury and inconsistency has made it hard to get a good look at the player. Now healthy and in the starting lineup through six games this season, that look hasn’t been good. Bjork has played on several different lines and with different line mates but nothing has clicked. He has zero points and just two shots on goal and hasn’t made a major impact defensively either. With the emergence of rookies Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic as NHL-ready assets and the upcoming injury returns of David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase, there won’t be space left in the lineup for Bjork. Multiple sources are now reporting that in anticipation of this result, interest is growing in the young winger. Bjork may not be a fit in Boston right now, but as a player with positional and two-way versatility and under team control for several years, a number of teams could be interested in taking a chance. With a lineup that is looking pretty complete so far this season, Bjork may also come cheap with the Bruins opting for a pick or prospect rather than a roster player in return.