NHL Rumor Mill – January 29, 2021
Check out the latest on the Penguins and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CHANGES COMING FOR THE PENGUINS?
TSN: Darren Dreger wonders what other changes could be in store for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they search for a new general manager after Jim Rutherford stepped down earlier this week.
If the Penguins miss the playoffs or don’t do well in the postseason there could be potential for a seismic shift. Dreger feels the organization owes it to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to have a conversation over the direction of the club under new management. He wonders if they will want to chase a Stanley Cup elsewhere or retire as Penguins. “But, imagine if those names were in play at some point in the near future?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins’ attitude remains “win now” but that could change if things go sideways this season. Of the three, Malkin and Letang could face the more uncertain futures with the organization. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents in 2022 while Crosby’s under contract until the end of 2024-25.
If there’s a change in direction after this season the new GM will have to discuss it with Crosby, Malkin and Letang to determine where those three fit into the club’s long-term plans. Crosby and Malkin have full no-movement clauses while Letang has an 18-team trade list.
They’re obviously not going anywhere during this season but this situation could be worth watching this summer.
Meanwhile, Pierre LeBrun reports 20 different candidates have reached out to the Penguins to indicate interest in their vacant GM position. They include Jason Botterill, Chris Drury, Ron Hextall, Mark Hunter, Tom Fitzgerald, Peter Chiarelli, Scott Mellanby, Mike Gillis, Laurence Gilman, John Ferguson Jr and Mike Futa. Interim GM Patrik Allvin will also be under consideration.
THE ATHLETIC: Sean Gentille also looked at some possible candidates to replace Rutherford. Among his suggestions are old friends of team owner Mario Lemieux such as agent Pat Brisson, NHL analyst Pierre McGuire and Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin.
Others could include Dean Lombardi, Colorado Avalanche assistant GM Chris MacFarland, NHL analyst Kevin Weekes, and Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins won’t lack for suitable candidates. I don’t see Bergevin getting hired unless he quits the Canadiens or is fired by team owner Geoff Molson. The New Jersey Devils could be reluctant to part with current GM Tom Fitzgerald.
McGuire always comes up as a GM candidate but seems to get courtesy interviews before being passed over. He hasn’t been in a management position in over a quarter-century. Brisson seems happy in his role as one of the most powerful player agents in hockey.
CANUCKS IN THE MARKET FOR A DEFENSEMAN?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports he’s sure the Vancouver Canucks are looking around for help on their blueline but there are no guarantees they’re getting it. He indicated defensemen such as the Montreal Canadiens’ Victor Mete, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Travis Dermott and the St. Louis Blues’ Vince Dunn could be available.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks stumbled out of the gate in part because of their porous defense but recently swept their three-game series with the struggling Ottawa Senators. That could buy management a bit of breathing room while they evaluate their defensive game.
We don’t know what the Canadiens’ asking price for Mete could be. The Leafs are said to be looking for some depth at forward while the Blues’ asking price for Dunn is reportedly a first-round pick or as high a draft pick as they can get for him.