ShareThis Page
Penguins

No team did less than Penguins at NHL Draft

| Saturday, June 27, 2015, 10:20 p.m.
Penguins general Manager Jim Rutherford looks on from the draft table during the 2015 NHL Draft on Saturday, June 27, 2015, at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
NHLI via Getty Images
Penguins general Manager Jim Rutherford looks on from the draft table during the 2015 NHL Draft on Saturday, June 27, 2015, at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
Capitals right wing Joel Ward (42) celebrates after scoring the winning goal on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the third period in Game 1 of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden.
USA Today Sports
Capitals right wing Joel Ward (42) celebrates after scoring the winning goal on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the third period in Game 1 of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden.
Daniel Sprong poses for a portrait after being selected 46th overall by the Penguins during the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 27, 2015 in Sunrise, Fla.
NHLI via Getty Images
Daniel Sprong poses for a portrait after being selected 46th overall by the Penguins during the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 27, 2015 in Sunrise, Fla.

SUNRISE, Fla. — Chairs had been neatly ordered in rows or hauled away entirely. Tablecloths had been removed. Arena workers were busy cleaning up trash.

And the Penguins were holding an impromptu staff meeting. For nearly an hour. Such was the scene Saturday afternoon in the middle of BB&T Center after the NHL Draft ended.

“Same as we have every day,” general manager Jim Rutherford insisted. “It just happened to be in front of everybody.”

Thirty teams combined for 211 picks and 26 trades over the two-day event, and no team did less than the Penguins, who showed up, made four selections and left.

The scene at the end was irony at its finest: The team that did the least had the most to talk about. But Rutherford downplayed the animated exchange between himself, his assistants and coach Mike Johnston, one during which assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald could be seen gesturing emphatically more than once.

“It wasn't that lengthy based on most (other) meetings,” Rutherford said. “And there weren't any punches thrown.”

Which is probably a good thing because Rutherford still needs to add a pair of top-six wingers.

Leaving here empty-handed did not happen because Rutherford was inactive or shy.

He and president/CEO David Morehouse at one point disappeared down a tunnel together. Same for Rutherford and assistant GM Jason Botterill and Johnston over various parts of Day 2.

At one point, Rutherford walked into the stands and had an extended conversation with Allan Walsh, the agent for Pascal Dupuis, Marc-Andre Fleury and David Perron.

Overtures seemingly were made, but Rutherford resisted the temptation to pay a premium, banking that prices eventually will fall into a more desirable range.

“I didn't push for a deal (Saturday),” Rutherford said. “There were no deals involving draft picks, so there wasn't a reason to push.”

Rutherford has talked since the season ended about upgrading who plays with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. He has also talked about a weak free agent class.

Only three shopping days remain until July 1, when free agency opens, so figure on Rutherford having a few conversations. He doesn't think any of the talks he had in Florida will be difficult to restart.

The primary trade chips involve the organization's young defensemen, Rutherford reiterated Saturday, with different teams valuing different players.

Olli Maatta isn't an option. Derrick Pouliot, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington could be for the right deal. But Rutherford said young defensemen weren't a sticking point in negotiations.

“(Dealing young defensemen) is not the reason we haven't made (a trade),” he said. “They're just part of the conversations.”

There remains no indication the Penguins have shifted their focus from top-tier scorers in Toronto's Phil Kessel, Chicago's Patrick Sharp, Carolina's Jeff Skinner and St. Louis' T.J. Oshie.

The group of unrestricted free agents is considerably less exciting, with top-of-the-heap names like Washington's Joel Ward (with whom the Penguins have met), Anaheim's Matt Beleskey, the New York Rangers' Martin St. Louis or Winnipeg's Drew Stafford, just to name a few.

But Rutherford, without tipping his hand, insisted going to free agency would not be a big concern.

“There are some guys we like in free agency that can help most teams,” Rutherford said, “but we haven't made a decision yet.”

They didn't make much of anything in Florida, save for four picks.

It's an approach that might have looked odd to outsiders — especially afterward, when Penguins nearly closed down the arena — but it's one Rutherford said he envisioned all along.

“I told you before I got here I was going to be patient,” he said. “I wasn't overly aggressive. If somebody was aggressive with us, maybe something would have happened, but this is what I expected.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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.

click me