On the Pittsburgh Penguins and their need for a third line center, maybe a fourth as well …
With the salaries for them now in place, GM Jim Rutherford can be a little more comfortable making a trade.
“When you have open cases that potentially could go to an arbitrator, you’re not totally comfortable making a move,” Rutherford said. “You don’t want to get back into a corner where you have to get forced to do something you don’t want to do.
“With both Brian and Conor done, this makes it more comfortable for us to make the decisions that we need to make going forward.”
The Penguins have about $3.28 million in available cap space, with possibly $1 million set aside for Matt Cullen.
That doesn’t leave a lot of space for a third line center, but it doesn’t mean that they’d have to trade someone like Olli Maatta to clear enough cap space.
Rutherford said that trade talks quieted down after free agency, but have picked up lately as GMs are returning from their vacations.
“There’s more talk going on now than there was a week or two ago,” Rutherford said. “Things dropped off a bit trying to get a hold of guys after free agency, where guys take off for a couple weeks. Now the talks are ongoing.”
Rutherford has spoken with Matt Cullen, who is still unsure about playing next season. The Penguins are waiting and trying to leave the door open for Cullen to return, but there are no guarantees the money will be their.
Adam Gretz of Pro Hockey Talk: The Penguins top four centers the past two seasons have been Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen. The Pens are already without Bonino who signed with Nashville, and they could also be without Cullen.
The free agent market is really thin for third and/or fourth line centers. The Penguins will likely have to go the trade route.
Oskar Sundqvist would have been an internal option for them, but he was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the Ryan Reaves trade at the draft.
Carter Rowney could play center, but he may not be what they are looking for as their No. 3 center.
Jake Guentzel could be another internal option, but he’s played really well on a line with Crosby and Conor Sheary.