Whenever Penguins GM Jim Rutherford speaks, it's always good. Here's some of his best quips at today's media session.
Rutherford: I have not met with (Fleury) yet to see what he's feeling. In ideal world, would start season w/Fleury and Murray— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) June 16, 2016
It can't be under-stated how much Jim Rutherford loves goalie depth. The Penguins have 2 good goalies and no real immediate salary crunch at this point. Though it might maximize leverage, JR wouldn't trade 1 goalie just because he has 2 good ones. Given the injuries we saw this very spring that is a wise strategy.
Now, the rumored 2017 expansion draft will force his hand and change everything. However, we don't even know the set-in-stone rules of that June 2017 draft right now. It would be wise to temper any of the Fleury trade talk while they sweep up the confetti, while we wait to see what gets announced as to if a young goalie like Murray might be exempted from expansion selection.
Bottom line is the Pens aren't going to make any hasty moves with Fleury. It wouldn't be shocking for Pittsburgh to have good reason to hold onto Fleury long into the summer, if not into the start of next season.
Rutherford said he'd like Matt Cullen back, but Cullen hasn't made his mind up. Told him to take his time, recover & see where he's at.— Jenn Menendez (@JennMenendez) June 16, 2016
Rutherford also mentioned he thought Oskar Sundqvist was ready to step in as the 4th line center if Matt Cullen rides off into the sunset. And, though he will have lots of time to consider what's next, all signs to this point seem to point to Cullen pulling the "Jerome Bettis exit" and leaving the game on top.
Rutherford says that depending on cap space, he would like to bring Lovejoy back. #Pens— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) June 16, 2016
GMJR also mentioned that Lovejoy deserves a raise based on the way he played this playoff. The salary cap will probably take Lovejoy away. About the only way the Penguins could make this fit would be to trade a player like Ian Cole who has a $2.1 million salary and offer Lovejoy about the same, otherwise the numbers just aren't going to work.
It remains to be seen if the Pens will be that active this summer, they might just elect to keep the guy they have under contract (Cole) and let the one they can't afford skate off for richer pastures (Lovejoy).
Rutherford said #Penguins will qualify pending RFA Beau Bennett but doesn't know what will happen.— Shelly Anderson (@_ShellyAnderson) June 16, 2016
This is a nice move in asset management to at least qualify the former first round pick. It remains to be seen if the Pens plans for Bennett involve giving him yet another year to see if he can stay healthy, or if they intend to trade him and try to get something back for him and move along. (That would be what JR meant when he "doesn't know what will happen").
Rutherford says he'd like to re-sign D Justin Schultz, but doesn't seem overly optimistic— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) June 16, 2016
Unlike Bennett's relatively cheap QO, it would take $3.9 million to qualify Justin Schultz, which just isn't realistic. Rutherford wasn't going to close any doors today, but with Kris Letang , Trevor Daley and Lovejoy (if they bring him back) as right-side defensemen, there's not a big need for Schultz.
At least for Schultz he was able to revamp his image and reputation a little in Pittsburgh and show he can be a somewhat valuable and effective member of an NHL team when used correctly. Unfortunately due to space and salary constraints, that place probably won't be Pittsburgh any longer.
Rutherford said based on things he's doing, it's looking like he'll be back next season -SK— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) June 16, 2016
Finally, JR spoke about his own status since at his June 2014 initial press conference he did mention only sticking around for a couple of years. Sounds like the old warhorse isn't ready to ride off into the sunset yet himself, so expect him back for at least one more season in 2016-17.