PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Bluff ‘em, Jim. Bluff ‘em all.
Don’t do a thing.
I know this isn’t in your DNA.
I know this will be tough.
I know this will be like a golden retriever seeing a fire hydrant and just, well, um, walking past it
But do it, Mr. Rutherford. Do nothing at all. It isn’t the way you normally operate; Lord knows history shows it isn’t your preferred maneuver, but I’m telling you it is the best way to proceed right now.
With the NHL Trade Deadline a week away, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has an enormous decision to make — does he make a trade in an attempt to bolster his roster (something he generally does at the deadline) or does he step away from historical template and let the deadline come and go without a transaction?
For me, the latter is the right move for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, this is a Penguins team that has propelled itself into first place with a momentous run.
This squad has ripped off five wins in a row, have been victorious in 10 of their last 12 games and haven’t lost on home ice since four days into 2018. On top of that, they have shown a penchant to be able to play multiple styles. I’ll give you a microcosm of such by what they did in a pretty free-wheeling, high-scoring game against Washington on Feb. 2 (the Pens won, 7-4) and parlay that with a heavy-game win they notched in a grind-it-out, physical contest against the Kings last week, 3-1. Since about Christmastime, this Penguins team has showed an aptitude to be able to play multiple styles. You wanna skate, they will skate past you; you wanna grit, they will grit harder.
So I ask, simply, what is missing?
It isn’t a third line center as Riley Sheahan seems to have answered the questions regarding what a perceived deficiency was earlier this season.
Is it a fourth line center? Do you want Rutherford to trade for a fourth line center? For me, Carter Rowney is good enough — and when the playoffs start a fourth line center gets his ice time slashed (as Malkin and Crosby double shift often) to the point where one should ask if it really is prudent to give up an asset.
On top of that, an offense that has been playing pretty consistent as of late has been doing so without Patric Hornqvist and Tom Kuhnhackl, two players almost certain to make it even better.
So where do you need to make a trade on the top four lines?
Do you want to make a trade for a defenseman? Not me. Seems this team has showed it can roll eight guys when necessary and the blue line is solidified.
Some have mentioned bringing in a “veteran backup” to Matt Murray. To that, I simply ask, “why?” Just like you, I watched Tristan Jarry in Columbus on Sunday night and I saw a guy who was ultra-confident. In fact, I have seen a guy who has been ultra-confident — and good — throughout his time in Pittsburgh. That said, this team will go as Matt Murray goes anyway. Paying any price to bring in a backup to him (who might or might not be better than Jarry) seems like a huge mistake.
So that’s what it all comes down to for me — do the Penguins really have any deficiencies so glaring they are worth giving up assets? I say no.
And I say that Jim Rutherford should do something that I know goes against his grain at the deadline. He should do zero.