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Metropolitan Division (NHL)

Five More Changes the Penguins Could Potentially Make

Jim Rutheford. Photo by Michael Miller. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

Just like everybody does at the end of the year, general managers speak to the media. Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford did so on Tuesday saying, “There is something wrong. Changes need to be made.”

When they lost Game 4 against the Montreal Canadiens 2-0, Rutherford stated, “We don’t have that same drive as we get closer to elimination. It was so disappointing in Game 4 to see where we’re at. You’re waiting for the desperation from the drop of the puck and it didn’t come in the first period. It didn’t come in the second period. And it was even worse in the third period. There’s something wrong if you don’t have that drive to win in that point in time to win the series. I don’t know. Did some of the players feel that they didn’t want to put in the extra work and stay in the bubble longer and prefer to be with their families? Nobody knows the answer to all those things. But it’s very disappointing and changes need to be made.”

Rutherford started off those changes this morning when an announcement was made by the Penguins’ social media accounts that they would not be renewing the contracts of assistant coaches Sergei Gonchar, Jacques Martin, and Mark Recchi.

The General Manager has also mentioned the core three of Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Kris Letang will not be traded, unless a massive potential deal comes up. He also wants to make this team younger and faster.

What are other potential moves that could happen this offseason?

Matt Murray Gets Traded. Tristan Jarry Becomes the Number #1 Goalie

Rutherford knows that he can’t keep both goalies. Murray’s time appears to be up with this franchise despite winning two Stanley Cups. With the flat cap situation, are both restricted free agents and the Penguins can only re-sign one of them. That would mean Casey DeSmith would be the backup, who is not a bad option to have. It now appears to be Jarry’s time between the pipes. He was an All-Star this past season. (44th overall selection, second-round pick in 2013). He appeared in 33 games and started in 31 of them. Jarry’s record was 20-12-1 with a .921 save percentage and a 2.43 GAA, along with three shutouts. Matt Murray played in 38 games in which he started al of them. His record was 20-11-5 with a .899 save percentage and a 2.87 GAA, along with one shutout. Jarry is 25 years old. Murray is 26 years old. A few teams that Matt Murray could be traded to are the Buffalo Sabres, the Detroit Red Wings, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ottawa Senators, the Edmonton Oilers, or the San Jose Sharks.

Jack Johnson Either Gets Bought Out or Traded

He has three more years left on his contract and General Manager Jim Rutherford tried to trade him in the Phil Kessel deal to the Arizona Coyotes last offseason. Rutherford knows he has to trade him or buy him out. Johnson is hurting this team more than helping them. His contract will expire after the 2022-2023 season. He is 33 years old. Johnson played in 67 games this past season and scored three goals and recorded eight assists. His plus/minus was -1.

Patric Hornqvist Gets Traded

Hornqvist is owed $5.3 million each season for the next three seasons. He is already 33 years and will be 36 when the contract expires. Hornqvist is currently the same age as Sidney Crosby and just isn’t producing much anymore. In 52 games this past season, he scored 17 goals and recorded 15 assists with a plus/minus was 9. A team like the New Jersey Devils could use his presence, but Pittsburgh wants more speed and skill in the lineup.

Conor Sheary, Justin Schultz, and Patrick Marleau won’t return

Sheary, Schultz, and Marleau are all unrestricted free agents and they will not be brought back. General Manager Jim Rutherford criticized Justin Schultz’s performance and he thought he could have done better. Schultz’s injuries probably caught up to him. He played in 46 games this past season and only scored three goals and recorded nine assists. His plus/minus was -13. Schultz was acquired in a trade from the Edmonton Oilers back in the 2015 season for a third-round pick.

Samuel Poulin, Nathan Legare, and Pierre-Olivier Joseph will see serious ice time next season

Poulin was a first-round pick (21st overall selection) in the 2019 NHL Draft. He is 19 years old and played for the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the QMJHL. He scored 32 goals and recorded 45 assists, in 46 games with a plus/minus of 45. Legare was a third-round pick (74th overall selection) in the 2019 NHL Draft. In 61 games with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL), the 19 year old scored 35 goals and recorded 36 assists and a plus/minus of -24. Pierre-Olivier Joseph is 21 years old. He was the 23rd overall pick (first-round selection) in the 2017 NHL Draft by the Arizona Coyotes. This past season, he played in 52 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL. Joseph scored three goals and recorded 14 assists and had a plus/minus of 2.

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