It has been reported by Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford is actively looking to acquire a first-round pick in the upcoming 2015 NHL Draft. Molinari pointed out that 6 teams, (Edmonton, Buffalo, Toronto, Arizona, Philadelphia and Winnipeg) have more than one first-round pick.
“There are some teams that have acquired an abundance of first-round picks, and they may not need them all,” Rutherford said.
Part of the Job
One of the things expected from the GM of a team is being open to any and all deals. Listening to an offer, any offer, is one of the job’s most basic functions. So to say that a GM is actively looking to improve the team is simply stating the obvious. The story here lies in that Rutherford is seemingly looking to fix an error he created: Returning to the first-round after trading his first-round pick away.
I’m not going to delve into whether David Perron is worthy of the first-round pick and roster player (Rob Klinkhammer) that the Pens traded for him. I believe Perron’s talent and years of control on his contract made the deal a decent one, if not a good one based on a productive upcoming year. However, as the Pens only have a second-round pick out of the top-4 rounds in this year’s draft, the cupboard is almost bare in terms of building for the team’s future.
As for trading back into the first-round, it would require some major assets to accomplish that feat. To that end, the only reason to part with enough to move back into the first round would be that you are trying to rebuild the team through the draft – trading away help today for help down the road.
If this is indeed the case, and the Rutherford is shifting focus from a “win now” mentality to one of restocking the minors, I would be curious to see who stays and who goes.
Prolonged SuccessI don’t believe that the situation is desperate enough that a roster fire-sale is necessary to fix what is broken on the team, that is to say it doesn’t have to be a win now OR win later situation. It’s not 50/50. The goal should be to have prolonged success over time.
I believe that simply standing pat in the future (i.e. not trading picks for players) would go a long way towards maintaining success. The core that has been assembled is generally a fine one, boasting the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Hornqvist and Perron. Trading picks for role players, like Marcel Goc and Daniel Winnik, is not a recipe for success long-term.
I don’t believe that Rutherford will be willing to part with what it would take to secure a first-round pick, and that’s just fine by me. It’s good enough that he’s doing his job and seeing what is available.
One never knows what might be out there.
Lee is a contributor here at The Hockey Writers as well as at Pens Initiative. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, he worked an internship at VH1 Radio in NYC and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Penn State – New Kensington campus student newspaper, The Nittany Pride. You can visit Lee’s website here: leecjsobotka.com.