It was a heartbreaking loss for the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, as T.J. Oshie’s goal late in the third period lifted the Washington Capitals to a 2-1 victory over the Pens, who were handed in their fifth straight loss. As a result, it has been made public that Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford isn’t pleased with his club’s performance of late, and his reaction is giving rise to some trade chatter.
According to Jason MacKay of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, multiple sources have mentioned that Rutherford and the Penguins' staff are listening to offers for young winger Daniel Sprong. While the 21-year-old talented forward has struggled as of late, he remains a kid full of potential and could be an interesting trade target for some teams out there.
NHL insider Darren Dreger recently said he would be surprised if Sprong isn't traded by the Penguins during an appearance on NBCSN, however, the TSN reporter speculated it could be a small move at first, only for Rutherford to pull something much bigger later on in the season.
As we all know, Rutherford isn’t afraid to make moves at any point in the season to improve his club. For now, he has only made some changes internally, calling up Zach Aston-Reese and Garrett Wilson. According to MacKay, Rutherford is also unhappy with some players who are under new contracts and those in their contract years who haven’t performed up to expectations. The Penguins GM did not mention any player by name, however, Mackey believes he was referring to Brian Dumoulin Bryan Rust, Carl Hagelin or Riley Sheahan, while he was also critical of netminders Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith.
As many fans and pundits believe, Rutherford's patience with his club is soon coming to an end and the Penguins GM could pull the trigger really soon if things do not improve in Pittsburgh. While he may still be reluctant to move Sprong, Rutherford could jump if he’s offered a quality young winger in return.
He might also be interested in sending a message to the dressing room and show his players he is not afraid to make a trade to move things in the right direction. For now, no one believes that head coach Mike Sullivan's job is in jeopardy even if that is the way the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings made a change earlier this week.