clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

More on Jan Rutta, and Penguins/Canucks trade possibilities

It looks like Pittsburgh and their old pal Jim Rutherford have mutual needs to fill for each other

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

The addition of Jan Rutta via a free agent signing yesterday gave the Penguins a good problem to have, especially for an NHL team. They have too many NHL-caliber defensemen. But a good problem is still a problem, or at least an area that will require some clean up work. General manager Ron Hextall laid that reality out yesterday at a press conference following the active first day of the league’s free agency.

And, wouldn’t you know it, just as Mike Sullivan and Jim Rutherford caught up at the draft in Montreal last week (pictured above), the former Pittsburgh GM turned Vancouver Canucks Team President finds himself in the opposite scenario.

Both the Dreger nugget and Hextall himself show that time is not of the essence right now. The dust hasn’t settled from today around the league, and now with 32 teams, there are more possibilities than ever for teams to go in just about any direction to find what they think is the right price and pieces to move around to fill their needs.

The prospect of Rutherford, and Vancouver GM Patrik Allvin, dipping back into their past to use their knowledge about the Pens is a natural fit. It also helps that both are known to be at least fairly bullish on Mike Matheson, Marcus Pettersson and especially John Marino.

Another interesting piece could be Kasperi Kapanen, a player that certainly has been favored by Rutherford. After signing Rutta (and Josh Archibald), the salary cap space in Pittsburgh is of critical importance.

It also in Vancouver, which means any type of trade will likely be close in salaries going in either direction. Vancouver represents just one of many teams, but definitely is a natural pairing that could have something deeper to work with.

As of now, Rutta is a curious addition that Hextall shed some light about what the reasoning behind it was.

Listed officially at 6’3 and 204 pounds, Rutta ranks second in both categories among defenders on his new team, behind Brian Dumoulin. Rutta’s 93 hits and 71 blocked shots last year would not have ranked all that highly, he’s not a typical “physical” defender but does have the type of frame and heft that has been lacking to defend the front of the net for the Pens in recent years.

Rutta has also been playing in the 14-16 minute range with the Lightning, though has been ascending a bit. Do the Penguins really see him as a more than a third pairing player? Does Rutta open up space via a trade? That would seem a big ask.

And it’s a question that the Pens will have to resolve in the summer at some point.