No, I always felt that up until maybe some point today that Jordan was going to be back with us next year. We’ve had a great relationship. He’s a very important player for our team, but a couple teams were pretty aggressive today – one being Carolina. We just felt as an organization that Jordan is at the point in his career where it’s time to really take the next step in his development and it made sense for the Carolina deal, the assets that we got back in return. It was a fair deal for both parties. I think it’s a good personal situation for Jordan, also professional. I think both teams are happy.
On the teams involved:
We had lots of calls over the last however many days. Everybody reads the paper and Jordan Staal is in the paper all the time. So as GMs you know when a name is in the paper that might be up for trade, you want to make a call to make sure you’re not missing on something. So I had plenty of calls, but my feeling on Jordan Staal was that I didn’t want to trade him. I said that and my goal was to sign him to a contract to stay with the Penguins and how far we could ever go with this three-centermen model that we had. That remained to be seen but I’d like to do that. It just became more apparent as we talked about it internally and – I’ve talked to Jordan and for six years I’ve had a great relationship with him and his family – I just felt the right thing to do when the Carolina deal that we liked just made sense, the timing of it. Let’s move forward on this, make a good deal for the Penguins, and make a good deal for Jordan Staal and Carolina.
On Sutter as the third center:
Brandon is a key to the deal for us. We really like Derrick Pouliot and Brian Dumoulin. Those are key assets as well. But NHL-ready Brandon Sutter is a proven player in the league. He’s a young player, he’s signed, we love the character, we love what he brings, he’s got good size. It’s hard to find guys like that. Those center icemen, as we say, those defensemen at center, are difficult to find. He’s a real key in the deal for us and we look forward to having him with us for many years.
On Jordan rejecting the long-term offer:
We had talked the parameters of the contract. It wasn’t difficult for me because I wanted him to be here but at the same time its business. Jordan just wasn’t sure. He had a lot on his plate this week and the last couple weeks. He got married today at 1 o’clock, congratulations. The Jordan thing is just a tough thing to do, obviously being the first pick here when I was here and won a Stanley Cup with him. But like I said, just the right time to do it. So we did.
On reaching him today:
I haven’t reached him, no. I’ve called him and left him a text message. First of all I know one thing from trying to get a hold of Jordan up in Thunder Bay, the cell reception is not very good. But I left him a message and texted him. Certainly word travels pretty fast. I look forward to talking to him, not on his wedding night, but maybe in the next couple day. So I look forward to that.
On what changed between contract discussion and then trading Staal:
It wasn’t that the contract discussion didn’t go right at all. It had nothing really to do with that. I mean Jordan, his last contract he signed was for four years not three. He had a year left on his contract and we’re a really good team with Jordan Staal. When a few of these teams, a couple in particular, were kind of dealing with that and felt we could make a good deal, we talked about this for a while with Jordan Staal and his role here. And I talked to Jordan personally about this, about his role and where he can go with his career and so forth. I don’t know if Sidney (Crosby) and (Evgeni Malkin) being here it would be a long-term fit in terms of having him grow as a player. The Carolina thing, as they say, it’s a funny thing to say but it was the right thing to do. It was the right place for him hopefully and it’s the right deal for us most importantly. Hopefully both parties are going to be real happy.
On Michalek trade:
Change the mix a little bit but certainly we got some younger D and really pushing. We’ve got some good, young defenseman coming. Today we did clear some cap space with the Staal and Michalek trade. We’ll see where that’s going to lead us but we’ve drafted lots of defensemen. A lot of people write this a lot, it’s time for these guys to play and then they turn into assets. That’s what we did and I think that with the Zbynek Michalek deal, he came for a reason, to try and win a Stanley Cup. He’s a great person, but to go back to Phoenix which was a really good fit for him before. Again, we had some other teams dealing with on “Z,” a good defenseman in the league. Again it’s a good situation for him and his family I believe. I think it’s going to be good for both.
On moving more defensemen:
We’re just going to see what happens over the next little bit, see what the market’s going to be and so forth. When you have NHL defensemen, it’s a good thing to have. We like our defensemen. We’ve got to, as a team, play better defensively, a more defensive game. Our defense is pretty good. We’ll see where we go with it. We’ve made quite a few changes here today for the Penguins. So we will see where it takes us.
On if Pouliot was someone they targeted for this trade:
We really liked Derrick, our guys had seen him a lot. We really feel that he’s a really good skater, really good offensive capabilities, a power-play quarterback of the future. So yeah, playing with Joe Morrow out in Portland, our first-round pick from last year, our guys really liked him.
On Maatta playing for London, same team as Harrington:
I don’t know, it just happens maybe. It just happens. Maatta was a guy we liked. Big kid, Finnish kid playing on a good team in London. He had a great year, going to the World Cup Final, he was a big part of that. Just another real young asset on defense that comes into our group here. I think he’s a real good addition as well.
On if he heard from Crosby at all:
He’s in Thunder Bay (laughs). How can you get a hold of him? No, I haven’t yet. Usually with our captain, what I do when guys get drafted or welcome guys, I’ll send him a quick call or text, something like that. So we will do the same thing with the guys here.
On his internal struggle with the thought of one more run with Jordan:
Yeah, I think you have to weigh the fact in this deal that made sense for us, is getting Brandon Sutter, who is NHL ready. This guy, I mean he’s a good player in the league. He’s going to fill that role. It just made sense for us. And going back into next season when you’ve got the three centers and you’re trying to find that ice time for everybody, for the coaching staff it’s a little more difficult too. In fairness to all three players it might be time to move on. If it was the right thing to do then that’s what we did. It should be a real good situation for Jordan playing with Eric in Carolina and they got one heck of a hockey player. But in terms of one more run, if we didn’t have a deal, I wasn’t trading Jordan Staal. I would have had him come back. Make it clear, Jordan never ever asked me for a trade and made it clear he never will. He would have been happy to play in Pittsburgh and it’s a nice story. To draft the kid as a rookie general manager, second-overall pick that you win a Stanley Cup with is a huge part of that, I mean that’s a really good thing. It’s emotional to trade someone you’re attached to but I know it’s good for him, good for his family and it’s good for the Penguins.
On if it’s possible to add another impact player in free agency:
Yeah possibly. We will look into that and we will see what happens tomorrow and, of course, over the next week. So we will see what happens on July 1.
On the model the team is moving towards:
We’ve got three centers. We’ve got Brandon Sutter, Sidney Crosy and Evgeni Malkin Those are three really good NHL centers. Again that’s the strength of our team. We are looking for Brandon to be a big part of that group. It’s pretty important to me in terms of building this team to have a young center like that to go along with Crosby and Malkin. It makes our team a good team still and in the future moving forward so we are happy to do that.
On what Shero saw in Dumoulin:
He’s a kid at Boston College, left after three years. Just left after his junior year. Big defenseman, 6-foot-4. Our scouts have really liked this kid and there’s another thing to get him in the deal. That was a player that (Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford) was very reluctant to put into the deal. At the end, as a manager I think, you’ve got a chance to get Jordan Staal, he’s got to include him in the deal. It’s good though. He’s signed a contract already with Carolina so that transfers to us next year. We are looking forward to having him at training camp and development camp this summer and turning pro next year with the Penguins.
On where the players fit in the Michalek deal:
Well the third-round pick we will be selecting tomorrow. So we now have a second-round pick, two third-round picks and two fourths, so that’s good news for us. Harrison Ruopp is a big right-handed defenseman from Prince Albert in the Western Hockey League that we really, really came close to taking last year in the second round. Our guys really like him. He’s a big kid, 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, plays an aggressive game, skates well, puck skills need to come up a bit, but he plays an aggressive game which adds to the mix to our defense, which is important moving forward. He’ll need some times. He’s back in juniors next year for another year before he turns pro, but a good addition to our group on defense in terms of our mixture.
Over if the rumors of Staal would fester with him if he hadn’t finished a deal:
I thought about that. I don’t know what the answer is cause we never got there but I thought about that. I think if any player to reach your true potential you’ve got to be happy, you’ve got to be happy in your environment, happy in you’re role. Not that Jordan wasn’t, but this kid had a great playoff run for himself. He didn’t play all 82 games last year but he certainly produced very good numbers. He was just growing out of what he was doing. He’s going to take that to Carolina and be a very good player there. We will see what happens.