NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2021

by | Feb 10, 2021 | Rumors | 55 comments

What the Penguins hiring Ron Hextall and Brian Burke could mean for the club going forward in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen wonders what’s in store for the Pittsburgh Penguins following their hiring of Ron Hextall as general manager and Brian Burke as president of hockey operations. Hextall has a reputation for patiently building a team while Burke is known for his aggressive moves.

There’s no indication they’ll move away from ownership’s current win-now mentality. Nevertheless, Boylen questions how much their current core of talent has left in the tank. Team captain Sidney Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang are 33 while Evgeni Malkin is 34. The latter two have contracts that expire at the end of next season.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Boylen ponders what will happen if the Penguins miss the playoffs or suffer another early elimination. Do they re-sign Letang and Malkin or move in a different direction?

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Paul Zeise also deliberates over how well Hextall and Burke will work together. He suggests perhaps Hextall will focus on the draft, scouting prospects and building up the foundation while Burke can focus on trying to give the Penguins a chance of winning the Stanley Cup around their current core.

Zeise believes the first order of business is to upgrade the goaltending. However, he admits that’s easier said than done. He questioned who has the priority when it comes to making big decisions on personnel, and at what point do they decide the Penguins are no longer Cup contenders and try to retool by dumping some of their big-name players.

TSN: Darren Dreger recently reported on the possibility Crosby and Malkin might not finish their careers in Pittsburgh. Asked how their futures could be affected by the hiring of Hextall and Burke, Dreger believes it depends upon the conversations they have with those two and Letang about the club’s direction. That could happen in the short term and perhaps in the offseason.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski included Malkin’s situation among the five factors facing Hextall and Burke. Multiple sources indicate ownership’s unwillingness to move Malkin and Letang. He noted the Penguins have been approached in recent years with tantalizing offers for Malkin that could help the club in the short and long term only to be rebuffed.

A top priority is figuring out where Malkin and Letang fit best. If it’s not with the Penguins, they’ll have to convince ownership to buy into that.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski feels Hextall and Burke made it clear during their introductory press conference yesterday that moving Letang or Malkin is unlikely at least for this season. They and Crosby were cited as the top players to build around.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Attempting to build up the roster around Crosby, Malkin and Letang is the short-term goal for Hextall and Burke. That’s not going to be easy during a pandemic-shortened season when most teams have limited salary-cap space and trades between Canadian and American clubs are hampered by tight border restrictions.

Hextall and Burke might not shake things up right away if the Penguins fall short this season because of ownership’s insistence on sticking with their aging core. The goal this summer could become restocking their prospect cupboard while attempting to make trades and/or free-agent signings that provide immediate help, especially if they can land younger talent. They could also open contract-extension talks with Letang and Malkin or put those off until the end of next season.

The Penguins, however, have limited cap room for 2021-22. Cap Friendly indicates they have $79.3 million invested in 17 players. With the cap expected to remain at $81.5 million, there’s little wiggle room for free-agent additions while trades would have to be dollar-for-dollar.

If the Penguins fail to improve next season, Hextall and Burke will have no choice but to convince ownership that it’s time for big changes. That means deciding whether to re-sign Letang and Malkin, assuming they haven’t already been signed to new deals. It could also mean shopping them before next year’s trade deadline.

Preparing for a rebuild will also mean determining whether Crosby wants to be part of it. He’s signed through 2024-25 so there’s not as much urgency about his situation as there is with Letang and Malkin. Still, the front office will have to have that discussion with their captain sooner or later.


  1. Owners can do what they want to because they, umm own the team but … why would Hextall & especially Burke walk into a situation where they are dictated to? Back in November Burke told the hockey world that the Penguins window had closed … nothing has changed, it is closed and a rebuild is needed. Hextall & Burke have a mess to clean up following Rutherford, who after building a winning team ruined it and left the cupboard bare.

    • Going to be interesting to see the response out of Pittsburgh when Hexy lets Malkin and LeTurnover walk as FAs.

      • I’d like to get an asset or two for Malkin but I doubt he waives his no-trade … he’ll retire most likely, he’s done it all. Nobody is giving up anything substantial for Kris LeTurnover, he can walk. But after everything he’s been through retirement is also a strong possibility with him as well. With the goaltending they are getting right now the playoffs are a pipe dream. In Hextall I trust.

      • I think that has been the plan all along even with Rutherford..

        They wont b resigned u less they do a super team friendly deal like may e half of their salaries…

        $16.75 is a lot of money to help rebuild..

    • I’m not a Pitt fan or di I care anything about Rutherford.
      But lets get real here.

      Every team that goes on a Cup Run for a few years crashes when the run is ended.

      Let’s look at the 3 dominant teams over the last decade.
      The Kings won 2 Cups and might have won more if not for Chicago.
      Now look at them. Once the run ended they crashed and burned. Only now are the starting to recover.

      Blackhawks dominated the league at one point. Won 3 Cup and were a powerhouse. Look at how many good players the Hawks were forced to dump during their runs. Guys who are/were All Stars for other teams.
      Now they swim in the same ocean as the Penguins. Worn out, aging stars with huge terms left, at hefty price tags. You know their names.

      Pittsburgh Won 3 Cups with the mainstays. But like the Kings and Hawks the end is here.

      It’s just the way it is to win the Cup. You mortgage the future for the Prize.
      It has been this way since the Habs, then the Isles, the the Oil. It just is the way of life for a Championship Team.

      So, let’s not pile on JR.
      It’s the way of the hockey world.

      • Exactly

      • So true. That’s just the way it’s constructed.

    • The cupboard is far from bare. Rutherford has added a young rookie defensman to the big club 3 years in a row and all look like top 4 type defensman. Pettersson joined the team in 2019 at 22 years of age, Marino in 2020 at 22 years of age and POJ this season at 21 years old. That is a nice infusion of youth to the blue line.

      All the forwards around the core also are young or in their primes. Guentzel, Rust, Zucker, Kapanen, McCann, Tanev, and Blueger give the Pens a strong top 9 to go with Crosby and Malkin. All those forwards would bring a ton back in futures if the new GM’s wanted to go for a full rebuild.

      So saying the cupboard is bare is pretty ridiculous. This isn’t the team Rutherford got handed that was old and slow around the core. This team is actually one of the younger teams around it’s core players.

      I actually wouldn’t rebuild and would start with a coaching change and add a veteran goalie because they never cost much in trade capital. Pens have plenty of Forwards and Defensman to get the job done.

  2. I was pretty pleased to hear the Penguins had hired Hextall, finally the Flyers had an inside guy to bring down the Evil Penguin Empire from within.

    Then I realized Jimmy Rutherford had already done that.

  3. Re Zeise and

    “ He questioned who has the priority when it comes to making big decisions on personnel,”

    All player moves better lie withHextall… letting Burke make any decisions is dangerous and should be avoided

    Re moves…. a tweak or two just to ensure they get into playoffs (they just need to finish ahead of Isles) should be the goal

    Anything can happen in the playoffs

    If they are waaaaay out of it approaching TDL… perhaps Sid asks if there is a possible move to Avs to play with McK

    Sid on that team would, IMHO, put them as immediate Cup favs

    Logic tells me that Pens will be in 4th or 5th at TDL , likely only separated from Isles by no more than 3 points

    IY move of Tanger would need to be at retention as so little space out there

    • Burke will likely try to add more truculence to the team. Hoping for your team Hextall tells him where to go.

      • I’m hoping so too Sparky

        Burke’s wealth of hockey knowledge is way up there with some great hockey minds

        That said… his moves while with Leafs put a heavy bias on my opinion of him being in any position
        Involved in trades/acquisitions

        Years ago… his moves were sound

        Regency bias has me viewing his abilities differently now

  4. Malkin is not playing very well currently. Had the ability to turn it up if he can get there mentally. Maybe a kick in the arse trade is in order. Florida is a good spot and no not for Barkov or Huberdeau. Pens will battle to the end for the 4 hole with the Islanders and may not make it this year.

    • @ silverscreen..maybe the grumpy burke and snarky HEXTALL is the kick he needs..

      We will see.

  5. As a Wild fan I hope the Penguins finish last in the league this year as they hold their first round pick. Go Wild!

  6. Ok Bruins fan, I was informed yesterday that it was reported in a subscription magazine that Bruce Cassidy, didn’t really want Chara back because he wanted to change the way the team play defense and Chara didn’t fit into the style.

    The style, Cassidy wants both dman to go behind the next and fight for control of the puck and the Center is to to the front of the net.

    Chara always went to the front of the net and doesn’t have the foot speed to go behind the net and then come back to the front of the net.

    I will be paying attention to the game tonight to see if this is how they play.

    • Does that system make sense to you, Caper? Sounds ridiculous to me.

      • Bcleaffan, to be honest i’ll have to watch and see. Just thinking about it sound weird because i’m use to see the defenseman clear out the front of the net.

        This system require you to be mobile and to react quickly.

        If i just think of Chara, directly to the front of the net; over to the corner off the glass and out, or flick 30ft in the air and out.

        This new style seem to be more of getting control, transition using your legs, skate it out or make a pass.

  7. Bruins also need the D to be pinching when behind and Chara didn’t have the foot speed.

    • Obe..DAMN those Bruins they won tonight again in OT 3-2 over the Rangers.

      This teams knows how to win, they never get blown out, and they may be as good without Chara and Krug…who would have thunk it.

      Penguins go watch a few Bruins games and learn how to get back to winning hockey

  8. I think the tandem in Pittsburgh will work, sort of. Burke being a GM of a few teams now, we can safely say, the Pens will be entertaining. Burke’s belief is entertaining the fans thus getting their asses in the seats. Hextall will build for the long term. But it’s gonna be a gong show at times for sure.

    I hope the Habs are actually becoming good and not just streaking because it would be great if somewhere in the future if the Habs can be a real contender for the cup, to trade for Sid to put them over the top.

    • The habs are already the best team in their division by a lot , and that team is built for the playoffs. The leafs are pretenders again didn’t really fill the needs in the offseason

  9. Feel so sorry for the Penguins and their fans with that grey haired dumby Burke in charge of hockey operations. The Penguins are my second favourite team and Hextall is going to be great for them, as long as Burke lets him be the GM and stays away from the trades etc….!!! Burke is well known to take over the GM seat even when there is a GM already there. Just like he did in Calgary and before that with the Maple Leafs, hopefully he lets Hextall do his Job as Hextall is no pushover so this could get interesting by the Trade Deadline.!!!

    • The word in Calgary was that Burke let Tre do his job and didn’t get involved until he was asked as a sounding board. There s no reason this can’t work in Pittsburgh.
      I can see Burke being a buffer for Hextall with Ownership and the media at times.
      The Pens make $, or did before Covid, but not a “rich” team. They will need to keep fans in the stands when allowed again as they are likely bleeding $ right now. I wouldn’t discount that need for cash when considering a rebuild. May want to wait until Malkin’s contract expires and make the hard decisions then and tray and stay competitive short term.

      • First thing Burke did in Calgery was observe and fhen fire Feaster. He “supervised and mentored” Treliving and when he was let go said Tre no longer needed his “help”

  10. Why is everyone so worried about the Pens making the playoffs? Haven’t they played most of this short season without their regular defense? I know it’s not great but it’s gotta improve their game to get the top guys back.

    • Agreed….they get back Pettersson, Letang, and Matheson…

      Dumoulin still out..

      a few tweaks by burke and Hextall we have a better chance..

  11. Malkin-Dallas good fit…
    LA-can they have another run? They have enough picks and young Center prospects to offer
    Colorado-Do they have room for Geno?

    • DeAngelo and Strome for Malkin. Cap hits work and all 3 have same amount of term left on contracts.

      • You like your little jokes. Good one!

  12. Frank (the other one not to be confused with me, the not so nice one):
    the Pens are not my second fav team, as I only have one: the Leafs.

    But I would add this to the conversation: do you think the Pens would get someone else to pony up a first rounder for Kasperi Kapanen?

    That will go down in history as one of the all time steals, unless you are old enough to remember the Leafs giving up a first rounder for Tom Kurvers.

    Pens are aging as you read this. Malkin is a fraction of what he used to be. LeTang causes more turn overs than a baker at Country Style Donuts. Other than two good goaltenders and an aging elite centre there’s not much there. And its only going to get worse. How many more draft picks are they going to give up to prop up these senior citizens?

    Even if they kept their goalies and Crosby and traded the rest they wouldn’t get much in return.

    But at least they have Kapanen. He skates really fast.

    • Maybe you should start using the name “Nice Frank” in order to avoid any confusion.

    • Lol, all time steals? Care to elaborate on that ?
      Both teams in win now mode , in the only sample post trade kapanen has 6 points in 8 games , plus 4 (team -8) , better corsi and fenwick than previous two seasons … I would say they are getting exactly what they should have expected out of kapanen . Full discloser, haven’t seen a pens game this year , by the numbers alone , he appears to be the same guy they hoped to get in that trade . Small sample size for sure , but has to be what your opinion is based on ?
      The leafs meanwhile have a couple prospects who will provide nothing this year and who knows what they are long term . Rodriquez also went back to pit .
      How exactly is this an all time steal ?

    • Kurvers trade for a first round pick which turned out to be Scott Niedermeyer!!!!


  13. Penguins fans should be ecstatic about the hiring of Hextall. He’s responsible for the drafting of most of the Flyers current core including Hart and Patrick. He was also the ASGM for LA when they went on their 2 cup runs.

    • Hi George

      Glad to see you back

      Hope your wife’s health issues are over and all is good with you and your fam



  14. Got an e-mail from Lyle asking if everything was ok here … for what it’s worth, and for those asking (thanks), as I said to him, my absence has been more or less a combination of other priorities with my wife’s health issues (married 6 decades) and a total lack of interest in this season. That and some of the nastier comments and exchanges that seemed to be on the rise.

    Anyway, when I happened to catch on the news that the Penguins had hired Brian Burke I have to admit that that raised the old eyebrows. I sincerely thought that, like Pierre Maguire, he had seen his last NHL team appointment.

    As for Hextall, maybe what they need right now is is hard-assed approach to solving their issues. We should soon start to see.

    • Hi George! I didn’t even know what local papers website to scour the obits for any George o’s!

    • Hey George, just as an FYI the nasty has been a lot less of late.
      For the better I might add, so you can bring your crusty ass back any time you feel like or have the time.

    • George O. Glad to hear all is well with you and best wishes for your better half. Miss your Ottawa expertise here.

      • Thanks Slick62.

        LOL Chrisms … I check the obits every morning. So far so good …

        Ray – to that end I’ve developed an attitude that, when I get up every morning, I’m hoping the Devil is thinking “s*&t, the old ba*#ards awake again …” Keeps me motivated.

        And if anyone wonders what my thoughts are on the Sens … err … “shaky” start, the only thing most of us were banking on was improvement and the continuing development of the kids. So, what happened? Well, for starters they were one of the 7 teams that hadn’t played any sort of game for close to a year, and although they were one of those that were allowed to open camp a few days ahead of the rest, going right into the season without so much as one exhibition game didn’t do them much good.

        I don’t know how the other 6 are doing overall, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that most are also floundering a bit. In Ottawa’s case, that combined with the huge turnover in personnel, couldn’t have made things easy for the coaching staff, Players who were involved last season to some degree and are now elsewhere include Pageau, Duclair, Ennis, Namestnikov, Borowiecki, Hainsey, DeMelo, Ryan, Hawryluk, Sabourin, Boedker, Balcers, Jaros, Verroneau, Anderson, Lajoie and Nilsson.

        Replacing some of them are Zub, Coburn, Paquette, Murray, Stutzle, Gudbranson, Dadonov, Galchenyuk, Josh Brown, Watson and Stepan and while many have their obvious short-comings, things were further complicated by the fact that, for the most part, none had ever played together. It takes time to become a cohesive unit – especially in hockey and even more so at the D position – so their start has hardly been a surprise. Hopefully, things will settle down to the point where, if nothing else, they’ll become a tougher 2 points.

        As for Stepan, I’m sure the guy has tried to remain focused but it must be damned hard to know your wife and newborn are out of face-to-face reach. The trade and who got hosed aside, I Just hope Dorion can accommodate his wishes and that some team at least close to Phoenix is interested, even if he get even further hosed.

      • Ott is playing better now George, to your point.
        They are also finally getting some saves from Murray. He had to come in after Hogberg was leaky last night. OTT had the better of the play other than in net.
        If they get some tending they will win some games.

    • Glad to you back Ge-O!!!

      • Thanks Uwey. Ray, that observation on the goaltending is interesting. As I say, I haven’t been all that attentive to the games so far, but after reading your comment I checked the boxscore and saw that the Sens outshot Edm 42-22, with Hogberg giving up 3 on 13 shots (Murray saved all 9 he faced).

        To my earlier observation, there were no less than7 new faces among the F (who weren’t there last season) and 3 among the D (if you count Wolanin who didn’t play at all last season due to injury). That’s 10 of the 21-man roster F/D complement. Developing some sort of team cohesion clearly takes time.

        One good sign is that Murray is starting to make some key saves and perhaps part of that comes with developing some understanding of what to expect from his D.

        Playing the kids from here out would also seem to be a step in the right direction with no room for the likes of Anisimov, Coburn and Paquette. I wonder, too, if at some point we see Joey Daccord get a shot at back-up, although that would likely mean seeing Hogberg go on waivers. They might not be ready to ross in the towel on him.

        I don’t know how some of the other Sens fans who pop in here see things, but from my now limited vantage point, just being competitive from here out would be a good sign.

    • The wife and I will say one tonight for you and yours, George. Thoughts and prayers.

    • Posted in wrong place above 😢

      So posting again here

      Hi George

      Glad to see you back

      Hope your wife’s health issues are over and all is good with you and your fam

      BTW… Happy 60th anniversary to you and Your wife



    • George O..I Don’t know you very well but glad to here you are better and the family is better. So many important things other than hockey and this site….welcome back

  15. LEtang if traded would bring back a return that would surprise the haters on here… but would be disappointing to the more casual pens fan.

    I’m hearing a lot about hextall being such a good drafter and developer… he needed good picks for many of those players… where are they coming from in near future?

    I like the plan of going for it one last time and then digging in. The 5 cups in my lifetime with two recent ones will keep me satisfied for a long time. If I get antsy I could always look east and feel smug.

  16. This is good for Pittsburgh. If Burke does anything it creates buzz for Hextall to work.

    Malkin will end up leaving trade or otherwise.
    Letang will fetch a small return and in a right situation would work well as a teacher.

    Crosby will stay when Pittsburgh lands MacKinnon – you heard it here first!!!

  17. Brian Burke is weird lookin dude.

    • A bit weird Chrisms.
      Old guy who still thinks he is cool.
      Which is kind of cool?

      I would like to see the salad without the dressing and not slicked back. Quite the doo I would think.

  18. Glad to see you back, George.
    I missed your contributions.

    Thoughts on the Canadian Division?

    • Thanks nevinsrip. Really, as I mention elsewhere, I haven’t been paying much attention to the games themselves – in any division – to offer any sort of objective comparison. Other than Ottawa, whose plight I comment on elsewhere, Just from looking at their records I will say I expected Vancouver to be more consistent, Montreal seems to have found the right mix – certainly in goal where they have two playing very well – Toronto is right up there where they should be in this particular mix, while Calgary seems to be in a state of flux. The Bennett distraction can’t be good. Edmonton still shows that, if you can shut down – or at least limit – the contributions of McDavid and Draisaitl – their offense is weak, as is their D overall. The Jets I can see becoming the chief threat to a Toronto-Montreal showdown.

      In short, it

  19. Met Brian Burke . Ran into him at an elevator bank. He is huge . I was surprised as he doesn’t Look like it on Tv. He does look as grumpy however. Ogre comes to mind. Shrek.

    The Pens need to start keeping some draft picks. Burke and Hextal will. I wonder if he still bangs the pipes .

    • Good one. Shrek without the sense of humour.


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