In the 10 days that have passed since the Pittsburgh Penguins’ playoff elimination courtesy of the Washington Capitals, there has been no shortage of post-mortem analysis for the back to back Stanley Cup champion Penguins. Everyone has a solution, it seems.
One of the most popular solutions amongst Penguins fans calls for a Kris Letang trade. Wait… what? This team is going to get better by trading their number one defenseman? It seems crazy, but it’s a theory that’s out there with plenty of well respected journalists and reporters lending credence to the NHL’s hottest trade rumor.
For what it’s worth, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford hasn’t exactly bristled at the rumors the way he had earlier this season when Letang’s was mentioned alongside other NHL trade targets like Ryan McDonagh, Erik Karlsson and Mike Green. “One name that I do hear out there that is being bantered about is Kris Letang,” Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported back in December. Rutherford refuted the report vehemently and maintained that there was no way he’d trade Letang.
Now? Well… the party line hasn’t officially changed, but Rutherford also wouldn’t deny that trading Letang is a possibility.
“Let me put it this way,” Rutherford said to The Athletic’s Josh Yohe. “He’s not a guy that I’m actively trying to trade from our team. He’s been a great player for a long time and I think he’ll continue to be so. But, I can’t sit here and project an offer that some team could come along and make. I can’t project the future.”
Ominous? Maybe. Much ado about nothing? Probably.
Still, you can’t help but think that the media, especially the Toronto media who seem so keen on getting Letang into a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, will have a field day with Rutherford’s quote.
From Yohe's article:
“It was a consistency factor with Kris,” Rutherford said. “There were times in the season when he was very good. There were times during the season when he was a higher risk player at the wrong times.”
“I don’t think there’s anything that happened this year that was unexpected based on everything he’d gone through,” Rutherford continued. “Also, consider how much we lean on him, how many minutes he had to play. I’m not surprised by how his season played out.”
“Like I said,” Rutherford continued, “I’m not actively looking to trade him.”
This could be an interesting offseason in Pittsburgh.