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Penguins trade rumors: Rutherford looking for a forward?

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Are the Pittsburgh Penguins looking to add a forward or a defenseman?

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

With T-12 days to the NHL trade deadline, things are about to get real serious in the rumor market. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford gave some very interesting quotes to the PG's Dave Molinari:

One of the more interesting things about Rutherford's time in Pittsburgh so far has been his transparency. He mentioned to the media that he was going to sign Marc-Andre Fleury within a month back at the beginning of the season, and boom it happened. GMJR said he was looking for a top-6 forward to add to the team even before Pascal Dupuis went down for the season and the Pens swung an early trade to get David Perron.

So when Rutherford speaks, unlike most NHL GM's, it's worth listening to. There have been rumbles far and wide that the Pens may be focused on a defenseman to join the second pair with Christian Ehrhoff, but with extremely limited cap space, if the Pens are focusing on a forward, that will probably be the last move they make during this season.

It's no secret that Pittsburgh has been hot on the trail of Toronto forward Daniel Winnik , and he would have to be considered a strong target going forward - especially since the "top 9 forward" was mentioned specifically. Winnik would fit that mold and possibly bump Nick Spaling down to the 4th line, which would show a lot of depth and open up a lot of possibilities for the Penguins.

But there could be more worth considering: Beau Bennett has slotted into a 3rd line role, is that the best place for him? Is he trade bait if he doesn't fit in? What about Steve Downie , is he more harm than help? And would adding another forward finally (and mercifully) really make Craig Adams a healthy scratch for the first time in his Penguins career? The trickle down answers will come from whatever, if anything, that the Pens end up doing.

Rutherford says nothing is in the works now- which makes sense too- because the Pens just got their forward corps healthy and can use the next few days to evaluate what they may need. It already seems like Blake Comeau will stick on the 2nd line, higher than anticipated when they signed him, but a very pleasant surprise to have. Now, they need to tinker with making sure the 3rd and 4th lines are as good as they can be. They aren't yet, but adding one more solid player and pushing Adams (and Zach Sill ) permanently to the press box and/or waiver wire would go a long way in helping.

Also, with the cap being pro-rated and slightly more space opening up league-wide, financially it would make sense for the Pens to wait until close to the deadline, so that the other team ends up paying for more of the trade pickup's salary. It's a very small benefit, but with Pittsburgh close to the cap they're going to need all the salary cap gymnastics available to maximize their ability to make the roster they want fit.