Report: GM Rutherford explains Leighton and Oleksiak trades

Bigger moves on the way in Pittsburgh?

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Jim Rutherford was a busy man yesterday afternoon. The Pittsburgh Penguins GM made not one but two trades yesterday afternoon, acquiring veteran goaltender Michael Leighton from the Arizona Coyotes and former first round pick Jamie Oleksiak from the Dallas Stars in separate deals.

Shortly after announcing the trades, Rutherford spoke with The Athletic’s Josh Yohe to explain the rationale behind the moves and how they may open up more trade opportunities for the struggling team.

“We'll see about more trades,” Rutherford said. “We have enough good players to get back on track. As always, we'll see how it goes. The nice thing about this is that having Jamie gives us another NHL defenseman.”

When asked if these moves were made in an effort to merely “shake things up”, Rutherford bristled. “Not at all,” Rutherford said. “We would have made [these] trades anyway.”

Rutherford is particularly intrigued by the potential in Oleksiak. “Well, we really do like this guy. He's had ups and downs in his career, but we've been watching him,” said Rutherford. “We like his hockey sense. We think he moves the puck very well. We feel like Sergei Gonchar has a good handle on him and he's going to work very closely with him. This is a big body. He's got a very, very long reach. There's a lot of things to like about him. For all intents and purposes, he's still a young guy. We feel he's got a ton of upside.”

So, what’s the plan? Will he slot into the team’s lineup immediately? “We'll see how that goes,” Rutherford said. “We'll see how everybody plays. Hopefully in two weeks, Justin Schultz will be healthy and back in the lineup. Then, we'll have more options. It may give me more options moving forward.”

More options for what? A trade? Interesting choice of words from the Penguins GM… in any case, how happy are you with these moves, Pens fans?