The offseason is rapidly approaching and while the Pittsburgh Penguins still do not have a head coach at the moment, new Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is soon going to have a lot more on his plate.
With that in mind Rutherford is soon going to have to decide on what to do with his own free agents before he even begins to look outside the organization.
As the offseason inches closer by the day, it looks as if Rutherford has already closed the door on a pair of current Penguins free agents returning in defenseman Matt Niskanen and winger Jussi Jokinen.
According to the Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe, Rutherford said Monday that unrestricted free agents Niskanen and Jokinen, in particular, likely will play elsewhere next season.
“I’ve talked with them,” Rutherford said. “I think both players would like to return. But they’re also coming off good years. It’s time for them to hit free agency and get their big contracts. With that being said, we’ll see what happens leading up to free agency.”
Both players increased their values on the open market by having pretty good seasons last year.
It also makes things tough for the Pens to negotiate with either player before they officially hit the open market as either player’s agent is going to engage the Penguins in talks until a coach is in place.
In other news, Yohe reported that the Penguins could deal their first-round pick (No.22 overall) in this weekend’s draft. If they do, the Pens won’t select until the fourth round as they have already traded their second (Douglas Murray trade) and third round (Lee Stempniak trade) picks.