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Penguins could be busy before Trade Deadline, GM says

Seek forward help, may need defenseman to boost Cup hopes

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com is sitting down with newsmakers leading up to the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline on Monday at 3 p.m. ET. Today, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford discusses what the Penguins may look to add before the deadline, their goalie situation and how far they can go in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins could be busy prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday at 3 p.m., general manager Jim Rutherford said.

Despite acquiring forward Jason Zucker in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 10, the Penguins are looking for more help at forward, and may seek reinforcements on the back end as well.

"If we could add another forward to give us a little more balance in our Top 12, we'd do it if it's someone who we think is the right fit," Rutherford said.

Rutherford also said the status of injured defensemen Brian Dumoulin and John Marino will impact how the Penguins approach the deadline. 

Dumoulin underwent surgery for a broken ankle on Dec. 1. Marino had facial surgery on Feb. 10 after being hit by a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos four days earlier. 

"We are going to get updates [on Dumoulin and Marino] near the end of the week, Rutherford said. "That info will determine whether we add a defenseman."

The Penguins (37-15-6) moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 5-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. They are one point ahead of the Washington Capitals, going 8-2-1 in their past 11 games and 3-0-1 since acquiring Zucker from the Minnesota Wild for forward Alex Galchenyuk, defenseman prospect Calen Addison and a first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft or 2021 NHL Draft on Feb. 10.

 

Since being hired as Penguins GM on June 6, 2014, you have had two first-round picks in seven NHL Drafts, including the 2020 pick you traded as part of the Zucker deal. You've always said you'll do whatever it takes to surround your two generational players, centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, with as much talent as possible to take advantage of the window you have. Is that why trading first-round picks has not been an issue for you?

"The prices are a little high when you are trying to add players to a contending team. We have to go about different ways as far as adding younger players because of the fact that we've traded a bunch of first-round picks since I've been here. We've been able to add some good young players without drafting them. [Forward] Jared McCann is one, [defenseman] Marcus Pettersson is another one, Marino is another one. These are all guys we didn't draft and they're good players in our lineup. Getting college free agents like [forward] Zach Aston-Reese and guys like that too. We're doing it a different way. I do believe at some point in time we will have enough good young players for a nucleus. There's a transition period for this group. As for adding, well, we do what we have to do to give us the best chance to win."

Video: MIN@PIT: McCann scores in 1st period

 

Since you have a glut of talented goalies, there has been plenty of speculation that you could trade either Tristan Jarry, Matt Murray or Casey DeSmith. Would you be open to that?

"I don't have interest in trading our goalies. The best thing I've heard in hockey is if you don't have a goalie, that's when you realize the importance of a goalie. Our goalies have worked hard to get where they are. I'm glad you pointed out the importance of DeSmith. He's a little bit of a forgotten guy. He's keeping our team afloat -- at least keeping us on the bubble of a playoff spot in the [American Hockey League]. He'll be back in the NHL next year. He gives us that depth. And then we have two very, very good young No. 1 goalies in Jarry and Murray."

Video: PIT@FLA: Jarry makes save on Dadonov

 

The Penguins have faced significant adversity this season. Crosby and Malkin each missed significant time because of injury, and forward Jake Guentzel is out for the remainder of the regular season with a shoulder injury. How has this team managed to stay at or near the top of the standings?

"It's a lot of things when you are dealing with adversity. Our coaching has been terrific along with our goaltending. And, of course, the players that we have. But I really think one of the big differences from a year ago is the character of this team. And it's a team that really came together early in the season. It has a special work ethic, likes playing with each other and believes we can win."

 

Can this team, in your opinion, make another legitimate run at a Stanley Cup?

"This team will be one of the contenders. You don't know how things will go when you get to the playoffs. It's a long run, it's a tough run, it's a run of breaks but the Penguins are just as capable of winning as any other team in the League right now."

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