Pens hope to reach long-term deal with Brandon Sutter
In the past four days, the Penguins have lost 10 players who saw NHL game action last season to free agency.
That doesn't include right wing James Neal, who was traded last week.
General manager Jim Rutherford said he doesn't mind.
Rutherford made it clear when he replaced Ray Shero changes were coming.
“I think we've done a lot of good things during these past few days,” Rutherford said.
The latest player to leave the Penguins is winger Brian Gibbons, who was a standout with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) before making a significant contribution to the Penguins during the second half of the regular season and during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Columbus on Friday signed the speedy Gibbons to a one-year, two-way deal.
Rutherford, who is dealing with about $7.3 million in cap space, has numerous restricted free agents to sign.
Barring some creativity — or someone willing to play for about the NHL minimum — Rutherford essentially is done with unrestricted free agency.
“I think that's the case,” he said. “Things have quieted down.”
Since becoming general manager of the Penguins in June, Rutherford has handled most everything with calmness. That is the approach he is taking toward his restricted free agents.
The biggest name among the restricted free agents is center Brandon Sutter. Rutherford has only so much money to work with but expects to sign the team's most important restricted free agents.
Sutter, right wing Nick Spaling and defenseman Simon Despres are the three biggest names among six restricted free agents.
“I'm not concerned at all about signing Sutter,” Rutherford said. “Honestly, I'm not concerned about any of the restricted guys. At some point, we'll have them signed.”
The Penguins have two reasons for wanting to sign Sutter to a long-term deal.
His playoff performance this past season — Sutter scored five goals in 13 games while playing standout defense — convinced the Penguins he should be their No. 3 center for many years to come.
Also, time is of the essence. Should Sutter agree to only a one-year deal, he will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2015.
Given the money spent on less accomplished players than Sutter when free agency opened Tuesday, the Penguins would prefer to have the two-way center from Alberta locked up well before he has an opportunity to depart.
“I really like Brandon Sutter as a player,” Rutherford said. “I always have.”
Rutherford knows Sutter well, having drafted him in the first round in 2007 while general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes.
In fact, Rutherford never wanted to trade Sutter to the Penguins in 2012. However, to land center Jordan Staal for the Hurricanes, Rutherford had to pull the trigger.
He doesn't want to lose Sutter twice.
“I hope he's here for multiple years, in fact,” Rutherford said. “But we need to see how it all plays out here. From my point of view, I hope he's here for a long time. But you have to have both parties wanting the same thing.”
Note: The Nashville Predators released a behind-the-scenes video from NHL Draft night on “PredsTV,” which focused on general manager David Poile's trade negotiations with Rutherford. Tidbits include Poile explaining to Predators brass moments before the James Neal trade: “He's calling Mario (Lemieux). If Mario says yes, we'll do the deal.” The video also focuses on the Penguins showing interest in Nashville's first-round pick, which was the 11th overall selection.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ reshuffled top line of Crosby, Dupuis, Kunitz looks familiar
- Penguins notebook: Maatta making strides at practice
- Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
- Penguins notebook: Blues defenseman Bortuzzo sticks to brutish ways
- Penguins centermen enjoying better faceoff success rate this season
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Penguins lose hard-fought game to Blue Jackets in overtime
- Penguins’ Perron returning to form