January 5, 2019 | 12:42pm ET
HIGH-FLYING PENGUINS LOOKING TO ADD
Jim Rutherford, GM
All of a sudden the Pittsburgh Penguins are tied with the Washington Capitals for first in the Metropolitan Division with 52 points, having played one more game than the Caps.
It’s been an uphill climb for the Penguins after a very poor first two-month of the season, but an eight-game winning streak has put them in a fantastic position at the halfway mark and the team isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
In fact, GM Jim Rutherford continues to look for ways to improve his roster.
The Penguins have limited salary cap space, with roughly $5.273 million to play with come the Feb. 25 trade deadline, per CapFriendly, so any major addition may result in a current roster player going back the other way.
Rutherford and the Penguins are believed to have had internal discussions, dating back to the start of the season, about veteran defenceman Alex Edler of the Vancouver Canucks, though it’s unclear if formal trade talks have begun.
Edler, 32, is in the final-year of his current contract and owns a full no-trade clause; any deal the Canucks try to make, he’ll have a say.
With veteran blueliner Justin Schultz expected to return from a broken leg next month, the Penguins may prefer to add a more physical defenceman to their roster with a smaller salary cap hit, instead of a player like Edler.
Up front, the Penguins would like to upgrade the offense in the middle of their lineup instead of having to spread around their star forwards – especially come playoff time.
Rutherford is weighing his options and history has shown he prefers to make deals well in advance of the trade deadline than others.