Rumor: More reports link Pens and Rangers in deadline deal

Another day with no movement from GM Rutherford… is he simply biding his time? Waiting for prices to drop?

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According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey, the Pittsburgh Penguins are targeting New York Rangers forward Michael Grabner on the trade market.

Mackey confirms that the Penguins have “expressed interest” in acquiring the 30-year-old speedster, but no word yet on what the Rangers may be seeking in return. For what it’s worth, Grabner is a pending unrestricted free-agent on a cheap deal. His $1.65 million salary should fit nicely under the salary cap for the Penguins. But again… what’s the ask?

If the Rangers are intent on holding out for a 1st round pick or a top prospect like Daniel Sprong, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford would be smart to avoid any conversations with Rangers GM Jeff Gorton. If, however, Grabner could be had for a mid-round pick, say a 3rd, 4th or 5th rounder, then giddy up!

Unfortunately, according to Mackey, it appears as if the Rangers are intent on maximizing their return and that means holding out for a top pick:

There’s a natural concern that the Rangers might not want to deal within the Metropolitan Division or to a competitor. But the source indicated they’re probably most interested in maximizing return, which is believed to involve a first-round draft pick in some capacity.

In 59 games with the Rangers this season, the Austrian native has a stellar 25 goals and 31 assists. He’s a unique player in that he can fill the net regularly, but is almost entirely bereft of any playmaking ability. If Rutherford can’t figure out how to make an Evander Kane trade with the Buffalo Sabres, Grabner could be an adequate replacement.