The Pittsburgh Penguins made a pretty big trade this week when they made the decision to deal veteran forward Patric Hornqvist in exchange for defenseman Mike Matheson and forward Colton Sceviour, and it was a trade that has been the subject of much discussion and frankly criticism as well.
Many fans in Pittsburgh have begun to question the decision made as of late by general manager Jim Rutherford, and some of the rumors floating around regarding possible moves from the Penguins certainly haven't helped. One such rumor has been the rumblings regarding the possibility of popular Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin being traded in the offseason, but it seems those rumors may have been exaggerated.
Rutherford himself recently made an appearance on popular Pittsburgh radio station The X where he was interviewed by infamous radio jockey Mark Madden. Rutherford was asked directly about the possibility of trading either Dumoulin or defenseman Marcus Pettersson and the Penguins GM left no doubt about his thoughts on this when he gave a hard "no" in response. The comments Rutherford followed that answer up with however are the ones that caught the attention of some astute Penguins fans.
Rutherford told Madden that if the Penguins were playing a game on that very night, that ideally he would have the two defensemen we just mentioned and the aforementioned Mike Matheson holding down the left side of their blue line. Given that this presumably means that Rutherford's top 6 pairings are all set on the left side, many believe that this is also an indication of Rutherford's next move. Dejan Kovacevic of DK Pittsburgh Sports seems to believe that this means defenseman Jack Johnson, a much maligned player on the Penguins roster, will be the next domino to fall in this offseason for the Penguins.
"Sure sounds like Jack Johnson’s gone," wrote Kovacevic following the radio interview.
Johnson has seemingly been the subject of trade rumors from the very moment he arrived in Pittsburgh, and this is an indication of just how poorly he has fit into the Penguins structure since he was signed to a very questionable 5 year contract by Jim Rutherford himself. Johnson has 3 years remaining on his deal at a cap hit of $3.25 million per season, and although I do believe Rutherford wants to trade him that may be easier said than done.