Needless to say that new Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager Jim Rutherford is going to have his hands full the next couple of months.
Not only does Rutherford have to complete a coaching search, he is going to have to make many key decisions on many key players.
One of those decisions involves defenseman Matt Niskanen, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Teams have already been after Rutherford concerning potential trades, which isn’t a surprise.
“Some people came after me today and there’s ideas out there,” said Rutherford, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I haven’t been throwing any ideas out, but I’ll listen. Obviously there’s going to be some new players there because just the position we’re in with the cap.”
As for Niskanen, a player coming off a career year, Rutherford seems to want to re-sign the 27-year old, but also knows that it won’t be an easy task.
“He had a good year and I’m trying to figure that out,” said Rutherford. “That’s not going to be easy, but certainly with the year he had we’d like to take a look at it.”
There will be a lot of teams lined up to take a shot at signing Niskanen, who finished the year with 46 points and was a plus-33 during the regular season.
At the end of the day though, while Rutherford would like to see Niskanen back in Pittsburgh, he has earned a hefty pay raise and that is something that the Pens may not be able to offer.
Throw in the fact that the Penguins do have a wealth of young defensemen in the system and while even though Rutherford would like to bring Niskanen back, the smart money would dictate that he eventually ends up elsewhere.