As always, Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the league. And he got some quotes from Jim Rutherford! The Pens GM has been remarkably transparent and honest in his dealings with the media (like the Marc-Andre Fleury extension, as well as what he would and wouldn’t do in trades so far) so there actually may be some value here.
11. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, asked what he’s learned seeing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin up close: "Crosby is all about hockey. He’s thinking hockey 26 hours a day trying to make us better. Malkin is better than I thought, and I already thought he was great."
12. Rutherford’s plan for the next little while is to wait.
"It’s been tough for us with the injuries, but I think we are harder to play against… able to win games every which way. We could play physical, with skill, have our goaltender win one, whatever game is happening every night."
Now he wants to see what the team looks like when Patric Hornqvist returns after the All-Star Game. "Then I can see what is needed, if anything. Get a feel for it."
13. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari reported Olli Maatta may miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
Although there have been rumours about a Paul Martin trade, a couple other teams said they doubted it. The Penguins are in it to win it, and are a better team with him, even if he walks in the summer.
If you want one of their good, young blueline prospects — Brian Dumoulin, Scott Harrington or Derrick Pouliot — it won’t be easy, "because we know what we’ve got with them, and it’s hard to find," Rutherford said. "I would prefer not to… If it makes the difference I would consider it, but if I don’t trade them, the Pittsburgh defence is set for a long time."
He said Dumoulin and Harrington are ready to play full-time in the NHL. Pouliot? "I don’t want to get ahead of things with him," the GM said, "but he is improving and getting closer."
Points 12 and 13 seem the biggest- if we go on this, don’t expect another trade for a while. Coach Mike Johnston said earlier today that Hornqvist is about 3 weeks away from returning and once he’s back that leaves a few weeks in February to evaluate where the team is and what they may need before the trade deadline in early March.
#13 seems to indicate that they are going to ease Pouliot (recently demoted back to the AHL) into the NHL full-time. Which seems wise, the kid is talented but needs time to grow into himself. No doubt he’ll be much improved as the days/weeks/months go by.
As for Maatta, we’ll see how that saga plays out. There’s been a lot of reports that sound negative, but he also took part in a skate this morning, so the team hasn’t totally shut him down yet. However if the reports that his shoulder isn’t responding to the rehab path they’re going down, another surgery seems like just a matter of time, unfortunately.