Winnik to the Pens and Rutherford may not be Done

pittsburgh penguins trade rumors

On 2/25/2015 Penguins GM Jim Rutherford acquired forward Daniel Winnik from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Forward Zach Sill, a fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft and a second-round pick in the 2016 draft. Toronto has retained 50% of Winniks salary.

Daniel Winnik will be an excellent addition to the Penguins bottom six. He brings size, grit, tenacity and Penalty Killing abilities to a team that has lacked much of that throughout the year. Advance stats will show he is a relatively strong possession player and has an ability to pitch in on the score sheet from time to time.

As of right now he should be looked upon as a rental player. However if he shows his worth between now and when the Penguins end the season I would not be surprised if Winnik re-signed in Pittsburgh this summer.

Rutherford may not be done yet!

While the Winnik acquisition seems like no other moves are possible for the Penguins, GM Rutherford stated that he is not ready to close the book on any other possible trades at this time. Unfortunately for many fans Jaromir Jagr has been dealt to the Florida Panthers. That means it is unlikely that we will see a Jagr reunion in Pittsburgh this season. With that said who else is out there?

Depending on the route that Rutherford wants to go there are Defenders like Petry, Wisniewski, Timonen and Hejda available or forwards like Vermette, Glencross, O’Reilly and Stewart on the block as well.

Obviously there may be other players available that are unknown to the public at this time, just keep in mind that Rutherford may not be done tweaking this team.

Which is a good thing.

There are still questions that need answered on the Penguins

Now that nearly all the players are healthy once again, except Maatta and Dupuis, we will finally get to see what this team is truly made of. Three games ago Mike Johnston made the proper adjustment of putting Perron, Crosby and Hornqvist together and has stuck with it since. I don’t see that as a coincidence that since then Pittsburgh has been playing better and scoring more goals.

The second line of Kunitz, Malkin and Comeau has been working pretty well also but, I feel Malkin is being bogged down by inferior line-mates. Malkin has been playing with more heart this season then ever before, it’s a shame he has had to deal with above average third liners this year. If Rutherford would make one more move, this is where I would want to see issues addressed.

The Bottom six now consists of Sutter, Spaling, Downie, Bennett (Unfairly), Winnik, Adams and LaPierre. I say Bennett is unfailry placed in the bottom six because I believe he should be on Malkin’s right wing down the stretch. But this is an interesting crop of players but unfortunately still don’t seem all that threatening to me, at least from a scoring stand-point.

Defense, the most likely area to get an upgrade if Rutherford makes any other moves, consists of Letang, Martin, Ehrhoff, Scuderi, Despres, Bortuzzo, Harrington, Dumoulin and Pouliot. This is one area of strength this team has, yet they are considering upgrading it for a playoff push. Out of those nine players there are 6 legit NHL capable defenders, and all with their own talents.

If the Penguins choose to go the route in picking up another defender before the deadline on Monday afternoon, I believe it will be more damaging then helpful. They need to strengthen their top six, add one more goal scorer/point producer, take some of the pressure off of Crosby and Malkin. Even by acquiring a stronger 3rd line center, something I only  seriously considered once the Staal rumors began, would help alleviate some of the strain put on the top players.

So HOW would Rutherford make room under the Cap? 

I never count a team out of trade rumors until the deadline bell rings at 3pm eastern on deadline day. It’s because there is always a way to make a trade or trades work where a team stays Cap compliant.

There are a few names to keep in mind, on the Penguins, heading towards Monday afternoon. Paul Martin, Brandon Sutter, Chris Kunitz and Christian Ehrhoff.

Two of those players are due to be UFA’s this summer while the other two have at least one ear remaining on their contracts. All of them earn over $3 million a year and could be moved to make room for better options.

That isn’t to say it will happen, but if Rutherford comes across a deal where he needs to make some room under the cap, one of these four will most likely find their way to another club.

All-in-all the next few days should be interesting, not just for Penguins fans but all NHL fans.

Thanks For reading! 

 

Robert Slavinsky

Pittsburgh Penguins writer for hockeytracker.net. Since my childhood I have followed hockey, from the years of The Great One up to The Next One I have followed the fastest sport on ice. Growing up in Pittsburgh PA, I have had the privilege to witness some of Hockey's Greats. Since the days of Le Magnifique no other team in Pittsburgh has mattered to me but the Penguins.

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