This may very well feel like deja vu for some longtime fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins as it feels like we were in this very situation just a few short years ago, although at that time the names involved belonged to Marc Andre Fleury and Matt Murray.
There are now serious rumblings regarding a potential trade from the Penguins involving one of their pending restricted free agent goaltenders. The cap strapped Penguins are currently looking at a situation in which the aforementioned Matt Murray and goaltender Tristan Jarry are both due new contracts and with the NHL salary cap expected to come down as a result of this cancelled season, it seems extremely unlikely that the Penguins will have the money to sign both. In a recent article for The Athletic, Penguins insider Josh Yohe published comments from Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, comments that made it clear Rutherford now knows he will have some ugly decisions to make in the very near future.
“Well,” Rutherford said as per The Athletic, “I’ll say this: If we are going to keep both of them, we’d have to move a few things around on our team. There is a way to do things and to make that work, yes. There are some very, very tough decisions ahead.”
Rutherford here acknowledges that he could in theory keep both players if he shed salary elsewhere on his roster but famously he made the decision to trade Marc Andre Fleury, a franchise goaltender at the time, and kept Matt Murray to avoid doing that kind of tinkering elsewhere on his roster. So if the Penguins do trade Murray or Jarry, where will they likely end up?
Well a recent report from Penguins insider Dan Kingerski has revealed that the Colorado Avalanche approached the Penguins prior to the trade deadline regarding a potential to add one of their goalies at the upcoming 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Although at the time there were conflicting reports regarding which goaltender the Avalanche were targetting, Kingerski's sources now both agree Murray was the target of Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic.
Multiple sources told PHN in February, and confirmed days later, that team was the Colorado Avalanche and GM Joe Sakic. The sources split on which goalie was the primary target of the Penguins trade talks, though the more senior voice said it was Murray.
Now, both sources agree Murray is the more likely target.
Would Rutherford really trade his two time Stanley Cup winning goalie? He made the seemingly impossibly difficult decision to trade Fleury to the Golden Knights when the situation demanded it, and it sounds like he may be ready to make one of those tough decisions yet again.