Rutherford hinting at early trade action
Jim Rutherford recently went on the record with Josh Yohe of The Athletic talking about his plans for trades in the unique 56 game season.
“Here’s the thing,” he said. “I’m not going to judge anything that I’ve seen so far this season. Not at this point. We had the short training camp. I haven’t really known what to expect. I think a lot of other teams around the league are feeling the same thing and dealing with the same thing. And yeah, it’s been unpredictable. We’ve had some great moments and some that weren’t very good at all. So, I’m not judging yet.”
I disagree with Rutherford quite a bit, but not here. We are talking about a four game sample that has been volatile. We have players with huge samples in the league playing below their capabilities (Malkin, Letang, Rust, even Sid and Jake at 5v5) and we have some depth players doing the majority of the scoring. I think it would be naïve to come to strong conclusions based on these games. Unfortunately, the exception to this is goaltending because we really don’t know what either guy is capable of at the NHL level because of the ultra-small samples they have.
You would have to think the known commodities will pick up their play and start contributing. They have to or the team is going nowhere anyways. Learning about the bottom six and what their actual value is will take time the Penguins don't really have. Rutherford would be gambling by expecting the hot start to be the norm moving forward.
“Realistically,” Rutherford said, “I have to ask myself if I can go 20 games without making some kind of a move if things don’t go well.”
“You’re kind of caught in between,” Rutherford said. “That’s going to be something I need to figure out. It’s too early right now, but the way the schedule is set up, everything is different and some things might have to be done different than in the past. It’s something we’ll have to weigh. I’m just going to have to play it by ear.”
We know Rutherford is a “horse trader” so if I were to bet on a trade I think we will see one sooner than later. He is clearly thinking about the 56 game dynamic and how the season can get late early. When you combine this with the rumblings about Jack Roslovic
I wouldn’t be surprised to see something materialize there. Especially, considering Bryan Rust has been a ghost for the first four games. Patience has never been an attribute for Rutherford during his Penguins tenure, unless of course you consider him not trading generational talents like Malkin and Letang patience. Most of his acquisitions get moved out within a year give or take.
Lastly, you have to look at the assets the Penguins have to move if they do want to make a trade. There aren't many with significant value unless the plan is to blow things up. What the Penguins can do depends on how much value teams put on Sam Poulin and Nate Legare. I personally have no issue trading either player because they just aren't going to be impact players by the time this Penguins team needs them to be, if at all in the NHL. They are unknown commodities. Just because they are your team's top prospects doesn't green light them to success in the league, especially when you are the 29th ranked team (per Scott Wheeler from The Athletic) in the NHL as far as prospects go. The Penguins don't have their first round pick this year so that is a commonly used tactic not on the table this year.
Making meaningful trades looks more difficult on the surface this year than it has been in previous years for the Penguins.
A couple victories over the Rangers this weekend will buy some time. A couple of losses…
Thanks for reading!