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NHL Trade Deadline: Rutherford says, "We'll be looking at adding 1 or 2 more defensemen.”

Not exactly surprising but the Pittsburgh Penguins will be seeking to add 1 or 2 defensemen before the March 1st trading deadline.

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This isn't exactly breaking news given uninspired defensive play and recent injuries to Justin Schultz (concussion) and Olli Maatta (out approximately 6 weeks with a broken hand), the Pittsburgh Penguins need defensemen. Their general manager Jim Rutherford admitted as much today to the Tribune Review's Jonathan Bombulie:

He already had been looking for defensive help for a while, starting long before Maatta had hand surgery that will keep him out six weeks and Schultz was diagnosed with a concussion.

"We were going to go into this market this month with the understanding that if the right defenseman was there, for what we felt was the right price, then we would move on it," Rutherford said Saturday.

Second, no matter how much he scurried, it's the sellers, not the buyers, who decide when the market starts to move in advance of the March 1 trade deadline.

"We're going to have to go through these next two weeks and go along on the timeframe of everyone else," Rutherford said. "We'll be looking at adding one or two more defensemen."

Rutherford has been incredibly transparent with his quotes to the media, and when he makes a statement like this he either follows through, or if he doesn't it's not for a lack of effort. It's pretty reasonable to believe he's a man of his word at this point and that the Penguins will be searching out additions to their defense. If they leave Maatta on LTIR through the end of the regular season (as we pointed out here) they have his full salary to work with in order to add players, offering some much needed cap flexibility.

The question seems to become now who it could be. St. Louis's Kevin Shattenkirk (impending UFA) was believed to be the biggest fish on the market, but since Mike Yeo's taken over the Blues have won a lot of games and are in solid playoff positioning. Would they trade him now? Also his cost would likely be astronomical and include a 1st round pick and possibly top prospects like Daniel Sprong and/or Derrick Pouliot. It wouldn't be simple, and likely would be temporary, but the addition of Shattenkirk could upgrade the Penguins big-time for these playoffs.

Among other UFA's there is Brendan Smith in Detroit (profiled here earlier) and maybe even Buffalo's Cody Franson (though they are currently 1 point out of the playoffs and possibly uninterested in selling). There could also be Ron Hainsey in Carolina or even Philadelphia's Michael Del Zotto or Mark Streit on the block as well, though it may be unlikely for Pittsburgh to make a trade with a divisional rival.

And, who knows, a player with term could be an option as well. Rutherford has often mentioned examining all possibilities and long-term player with some term. A look at the Penguins depth chart would show a need for a top-4 defenseman next season, being as Trevor Daley is a UFA and not expected to re-sign.

As Rutherford told Bombulie-

"I'm in the same conversations as everybody else and keeping an open mind to anything's that out there, with the understanding that maybe I don't feel the same urgency as some other teams do," Rutherford said. "We're certainly in the conversations. If something makes sense, then we'll move forward on it at any position."

That's about all you can expect and ask for. Now we'll see what the 2016 GM of the year has up his sleeve for an encore.