NHL Rumor Mill – August 17, 2017

by | Aug 17, 2017 | Rumors | 35 comments

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford continues his search for a third-line center.

Latest on the Penguins plus an update on Will Butcher in your NHL rumor mill. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE/PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: With center Matt Cullen signing with the Minnesota Wild, Sam Werner and Jonathan Bombulie looked at the Penguins plans to address their checking-line depth at center.

Werner reports Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said his search for a third-line center could stretch into training camp and possibly even the upcoming season. Short-term options in lieu of a trade include moving Jake Guentzel to center or employing Scott Wilson in that role.

Rutherford also said he hasn’t seen any change yet in the trade market but that could improve during training camp. He said there were “a couple of guys” he could acquire “right now” but prefers to wait and see how things shake out.

Bombulie reports Rutherford is comfortable with Carter Rowney taking over the fourth-line center spot. He also notes the Penguins GM has around $3.2 million in salary-cap space to use in bringing in a third-line center if necessary. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford didn’t indicate who those “couple of guys” are that he’s could acquire. The fact he prefers to wait and see how things progress during training camp or perhaps into the season suggests he wants to see if better options might become available.

There was speculation earlier this summer linking the Penguins to Colorado’s Matt Duchene ($6 million annual cap hit through 2018-19) and Toronto’s Tyler Bozak ($4.2 million cap hit and a UFA next summer), but he’s rejected the notion of pursuing expensive options. Given his salary-cap constraints, I don’t see either guy joining the Pens unless Rutherford can clear sufficient cap space without giving up a quality player in return. 

POST-GAZETTE: Werner also reports Rutherford confirmed the Penguins will pursue former Colorado Avalanche prospect defenseman Will Butcher. The 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner became an unrestricted free agent on August 15. 

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks have not contacted Butcher or former New Jersey Devils forward Alex Kerfoot. Powers speculates the Hawks lack of interest in those two suggests they want to give their currently signed young players an opportunity this season. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t among the early suitors for Butcher. He speculates that could be because they have a glut of defensemen. “Victor Hedman, Slater Koekkoek and Braydon Coburn are also left shot defensemen expected to be on the team.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Butcher’s agent already indicated his client will be meeting with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and Vegas Golden Knights. I daresay he’ll be open to speaking with the defending Stanley Cup champions. 



  1. Rutherfords reluctance or hesitation to sign a 3C feels more like him wanting to check out if Sprong and or ZAR can make the team out of camp than him not liking a market that is not likely to change any time soon. If those 2 and Archibald can join the players that are more entrenched then why not just sit with the cap space instead of being capped out and having a log jam of forwards. Say Guentzel plays 3C
    Sheary Crosby Hornqvist
    Rust Malkin Sprong
    ZAR Guentzel Kessel
    Hagelen Wilson Reeves
    Archie Rowney Kuhnhackle
    That looks fine to me for at least the start of the season. I absolutely hate the Reeves deal more and more every day. I think Kostin might end up being a top 5 player from this draft and Sundqvist could have played 3C or 4C. What a waste of talent. At this point I’m hoping more for Kerfoot than Butcher but something tells me both are very aware of the Pens recent track record with college players.

    • Reaves is easily worth a top 50 prospect… Duh.

      • 2 top prospects, well one that was just our top prospect.

      • Sprong is Pit top prospect & as much as I have concerns about Pouliot I would rank him ahead of Sundqvist as well as the 2 goalies Jarry & Gustavsson.

      • yeah… sund worked his way out… but still was a viable 4th line center.. more upside than rowney.

      • What does it say about Sundqvist when Rowney a 27 year old undrafted rookie gets a shot ahead of him? Or how about Wilson, Kuhnhackl, Rust, Archibald, etc. Even Fehr was brought in to barely play blocking Sundqvist. This player just didn’t fit what ever Pit was looking for or they would have given him an opportunity to play. He has seen 28 NHL games in his 2 years in NA seeing 10 mins a game. Not even a sniff at an NHL job.

        Just let it go. Might Sundqvist ever be an NHL player? Maybe but his development & deployment suggest otherwise & it certainly wasn’t going to be in Pit. Knowing they were going into the 2017-18 season with only 2 C’s they still threw him into this deal & never gave him a real shot at an NHL job.

        Obviously there are some warts of some nature as his AHL #’s are reasonable & he has good size. I have no recollection of ever seeing him play although I would have in the 2014 WJC’s which suggests he was 1 of the best in the world at that time & drafted reasonably high, 81st overall in 2012. It just doesn’t transfer to the NHL for all players for some reason but for Deee to imply he’s a solid prospect & Pit’s #1 is a serious stretch.

      • I’ll never say that he was there number 1… he’d of still made the top ten though (on the 31st ranked farm system of course). he played ok in his time in the nhl… not great, not terrible. having him in camp to compete for a spot would be better than not. at one point the team was real high on the guy… and I think that soured really really quickly.

    • Pit slid from 31st to 51st, 20 spots to acquire Reeves, throwing in Sundqvist.

      Sundqvist was drafted 5 years ago & has yet to breakthrough into the NHL. That is very odd for a forward, it’s even pushing the limits for Dman. If anything that makes him a suspect now not a prospect. Will he be an NHL player? Pittsburgh had numerous opportunities to give him a chance & choose others repeatedly.

      I see Sundqvist being waived by StL even with Berglund injured to start the season, he needs to clear waivers to be sent down but I don’t see him making StL’s 23 man starting roster unless another injury allows him to stick.

    • Jake Guentzal is good but he won be playing center….they will get a 3rd line center and Carter Rowney will be the 4th line center.

      whether its Bozak Duchense Matthew Perreault they will get someone

  2. I think Cullen signing with minny hurts more GMJR more than people think. I highly doubt they want guentzel away from Crosby. I think they would have been ok going with Cullen and rowney as the bottom 6 centers but now are in a bind. they are overloaded with wingers so trading one for a center at some point seems likely.

    • Cullen is not cut out to play 3C for an entire season there’s just no way. Rowney would be a better 5C than anything. He plays hard but he doesn’t bring much in the way of offense. We don’t need Cullen any more but we will always appreciate his 2 years with the team.

      • I think rowney is ok as 4 center though good depth would have him as the 13 forward. I agree about Cullen but I think gmjr was hoping he would return and by him time into the season possibly up to deadline to evaluate the situation and make a deal with prorated cap

  3. My current roster for Pittsburgh looks like this but it’s in constant flux. It doesn’t include Sprong at present as I don’t just give roster spots to most rookies but if he’s not on this roster on opening day he will be as soon as a spot opens up.

    Guentzel, Crosby, Sheary; LW?.
    Hornqvist; RW?, Malkin, Kessel.
    Hagelin, Aston-Reese, Rust.
    Wilson, Rowney, Reaves.
    Spare Kuhnhackl.

    If Pit is ready to give Sprong a starting roster spot, 1 of these forwards would need to be waived to make room, nor do I even have Archibald on this roster & he will need to clear waivers as well. This could block Aston-Reese starting in the NHL until an injury hits as well.

    These are just assumptions trying to factor in the business aspect of the game but most teams make room if a prospect is truly ready to play & I assume Pit will as well even if it means having to waive some of the 4th line guys.

    • Pens need to aquire 2 bottom 6 C’s, just think about the lack of depth we have there if an injury to Sid or Geno? I’d like Pens to go after Eakin and Tierney.

      • its true that the third line center in pitt will be top 6 for at least 25% of the season between malkin and Crosby missing their bumps and bruises games

  4. Cullen signed in Minnesota because he promised his Dad he would retire with Minnesota.

    Jagr is signing with Pittburg. Details are being discussed.

    • if it results in them trading hags or horny for a viable third line center then you crazy lips to gods ear.

      • Pittsburg has 3.28 mil to fill 23 man roster

        They don’t need to make a trade

        Your crazy and you need to go to the hospital and get help

      • oh really? so with that space they sign jagr and… what… play him third line center? or does he bump sheary or horny or kessel to the fourth line?

        Whats the best hospital in Pittsburg? In fact.. where is Pittsburg?

    • you are dreaming jagr is not signing with Pittsburgh he will never be welcomed back to play there or as long as Mario is there. Rutherford has said he has 0 interest in jagr…your source is a bad one. ill bet a paycheck on it…

      Pittsburgh is te steel city and the city of bridges but Jagr has burned too many bridges…not happening

    • Jagr is too slow, would be a cancer and distraction on this team, and he will never be welcomed back except to retire his jersey in the rafters..that’s it stop al the jage bs there is no home coming he blew that when he signed with the Flyers in 2012

      • Seconded. I was finally ready to give him a chance as a fan in 2012 and then he killed that for me. No more second chances from me. I don’t want to see him signed, I don’t want to see him anything to do with this org again.

  5. Pittsburg

    Toronto pitched Gauthier at Prospects Camp but no teams were interested.

    Toronto going to pitch him again when Training Camps open.

    Vegas is going to wait to Training Camp to decide on surplus of defence. Vegas wants to make trades instead of waiving them.

    Training Camp will see a flurry of activity.

    Several trades already set but are waiting for physicals to be done when Training Camps open.

    • Pittsburgh


      • great spelling there Chrisms where did you go to school ?

    • Freddie Gauthier ? He’s out till around November

      • Gauthier injury was in May.

        Back on ice a couple of days ago.

        Will be at training camp 100% healed as there are no setbacks.

        Toronto wants to trade him badly.

        No interest so far.

    • you don’t have a clue whats going on in TORONTO with Gauthier!!!!!! hes out till November or early December!!!! lol

  6. Pitsburg could take Leaf’s Bozak sending back Matta or a good prospect/pick with Leafs holding a million of his salary? Kessell and Bozak are a good pair and if they are really interested go for JVR at the deadline. This creates another second line for the playoffs. These are short term commitments.

    TO should offer Las Vegas Valiev, and two or three other prospects for Miller. That way they build some depth and Leafs get some roster spots filled.

    • No. Pens can’t trade d. Don’t have depth . Pouliot rust and a mid pick for him

    • I believe Bozak might be one of those guys that Rutherford said “there are a few guys i could get right now” He is waiting for something or someone..

  7. My impression of Sundqvist, based on information provided by sports writers, is that he couldn’t adjust to the smaller (than European) ice. To convince the coaches of that, he produced 4 points in 28 games with the Pens. His middling success in the AHL apparently couldn’t convince them otherwise, their being mindful that AHL performance becomes less meaningful after a certain number of NHL failures. Ask Chris Bourque, Rowney was only slightly better in points, but produced them on his first NHL opportunity.

    The Penguins will be playing for another Cup in 2018. Noone they could have drafted at their draft position was likely to help them. Sundqvist probably wouldn’t have, either. Will the player those two bought, Ryan Reaves, help them? I think he will, because I look at him as not just a protector, but as a cheap Chris Kunitz replacement. Contact is still an important part of hockey and Kunitz, I believe, was Pittsburgh’s leading hitter last season. Reaves was one of the league’s top hitters. Reaves will make up for those lost hits, and he will hurt more. He scored only 2 fewer goals than Kunitz, with less help.

    • It seems that there are no St. Louis fans that post regularly on this blog. That means that anyone here who wants to get a balanced fan view of the Reaves story has to look to the St. Louis news sites. Upon doing that, one sees that most Blues fans wish Reaves was still there.

      • I’m a Blues fan an I definitely wish that we would have kept Reaves. He is definitely not a scorer but he plays hard every shift and is not afraid to hit anyone. He was also very well liked as a teammate. As the trade stands right now Pittsburgh definitely got the better end of the deal. If however Kirstin pans out then I have to give the edge to the Blues but this is the great unknown.

  8. Kostin not Kirstin..gotta love auto correct