Pittsburgh Penguins Jim Rutherford joined Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun on the Two-Man Advantage podcast and provided some interesting details on his thought process going into next season, why he made the trade he did for Kapanen and if he believes his current players still have the drive they need to win.
Rutherford on Kapanen And Window To Win
When asked about what he was thinking when making the first big trade of the offseason, Rurtherford noted that he doesn’t like giving up first-round picks (even though he’s done so almost every year since being the Penguins GM), but he felt Kapanen was a good player that would help the team in their window to win. Rutherford noted that window isn’t closed, but it is closing and has only a few years left.
Rurtherford didn’t think their No. 15 pick would play right away and the organization wanted to get the impact Kapanen could provide now. With Kapanen in the fold, he believes the team now has a complete top six and that was important to him.
Rurtherford on His Goaltender Situation
LeBrun pointed out that Rutherford has been open about trading one of his two goalies — Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry. When asked about how he planned to contend with an open market that had a lot of goaltenders in it, Rutherford responded, “our goalies are as good our better” than what’s available on the open market and they are younger.
Specifically, in respect to Murray, Rutherford noted that Murray is a two-time Stanley Cup winner. He said he’d rather not trade either, but that didn’t seem realistic given the changes in salary cap. He agreed that it’s not likely they can keep both.
He reaffirmed that there is certainly enough interest in both players that something will get done but his comments, in a way, suggested he’d not gotten the trade value he was looking for yet which is why neither has been moved.
The Penguins Leadership Group
Perhaps among the most interesting comments Rutherford made, was in respect to his leadership group. He was complimentary when he said, “Our core guys have done it and they know what it takes.” At the same time, those comments opened up the discussion about whether or not some of them were giving it their all.
Rutherford didn’t name any specific players but was asked about Evgeni Malkin. The GM noted that Malkin had a great year and was the MVP of the team. “I’m not shopping him or our core players,” Rutherford said. Still, he also said that he’ll always listen to offers if they come his way.
What Rutherford did point out was that he’s always asking the question, ‘Do our guys still have the drive to win?’. Again, not pointing fingers at Malkin, Rutherford wondered if once you win, how badly do you want to win again? It’s important to ask if that drive is there. “We didn’t have that same fight,” he said when talking about their disappointing loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
“You wonder about guys, like you win two, three cups and you have a great legacy already, you know, you still want to win again but do you have that same drive as when you were trying to win the first one and the second and third one. I sit there and wonder some times.”
Does this mean anything? Should we read between the lines?
If Rutherford is looking to move out players he may have recognized might not have the drive he expects them to have in this final push, we could see some changes. if he’s recognized a handful of players who were guilty of not fighting, he could make a lot of moves.
As Rutherford noted, the window is only a few more years wide and that means there’s no time to waste.
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