PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is already hard at work re-tooling the team as the offseason begins.
Rutherford built some cap space by trading veteran defenseman Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks over the weekend. In return, the Pens received forward Dominik Kahun and a 5th round pick in the 2019 Draft, which takes place at the end of the week in Vancouver.
Kahun played a full 82 games with the Blackhawks in 2018-2019, his rookie season, scoring 13 goals, 24 assists for 37 points. Rutherford also pointed out that he was one of the only players on a bad Chicago team to end the season in the plus category of +/- (+10.)
“Dominik Kahun just said a conference call that if he plays wing, he prefers the right side but it’s no big deal. He was a center before reaching the NHL.”
Rutherford spoke to KDKA-TV’s Bob Pompeani and Ron Cook of The Cook and Joe Show on 93.7 The Fan Monday morning.
GMJR confirmed that he is no longer actively shopping Phil Kessel after the forward cancelled the trade to the Minnesota Wild a few weeks ago. Rutherford said he would still entertain offers from teams if the deal makes sense for the Penguins. Since the trade was nixed and the Maatta deal is done, Rutherford said defenseman Jack Johnson will most likely be back next season. Despite reports saying Johnson was a part of the proposed Kessel deal, Rutherford debunked those rumors and confirmed Johnson was not a part of the original deal. He did say that a defenseman on the roster would have been a part of the trade if it would have went through.
“From a team point of view you can’t have the player controlling the trade because if you do it’s not going to work out for the team so at this point and time I view it that Phil will return with the team,” Rutherford said.
The general manager admitted he is not actively looking to move Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang either, but said anything is a possibility and even mentioned a name of a former great who ended up getting flipped in a blockbuster trade.
“Pens GM Jim Rutherford, speaking on @937theFan, confirms he’s not pushing to trade Malkin and Letang but wouldn’t say definitely they aren’t going anywhere, pointing to the fact that Wayne Gretzky got traded.”
“There has been great players traded in this league, you know, somebody comes along with a package that makes sense for the Penguins we have to look at it,” Rutherford said. “They have been great players, they still are and they are the kind of guys you win championships with.”
Rutherford was asked if he plans on extending both goalie Matt Murray and head coach Mike Sullivan, both who have one year left on their deals.
“I don’t see any hurry in doing those [deals],” Rutherford said. “But certainly both those guys are people we would like to keep.”