Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford took some time this weekend to throw some cold water on some trade rumors involving Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury that had started to burn over the past couple of weeks.
On Saturday afternoon he repeated for what has to be the fifth time in the past two years (including nearly one year to the day!) that he has absolutely no intention of trading Malkin after rumors involving his superstar center surfaced once again, including a pretty laughable report that originated out of New York involving the Chicago Blackhawks "kicking the tires" on him.
"Let me make it easy for everybody," Rutherfold said live on the NHL Network during the draft. "We are not trading Evgeni Malkin."
Will this stop the yearly "will this be the year the Penguins trade Evgeni Malkin" talk that always surfaces this time of year? Of course not, and he will probably have to do it next summer, too.
One player that did seem to be a likely trade candidate this summer was goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
He also will remain on the team, at least for now.
Rutherford repeated his desire on Saturday to open the 2016-17 with both goalies Matt Murray and Fleury on the roster "and see where it goes."
He made a similar comment to Sportsnet's John Shannon.
Jim Rutherford just told me that MA Fleury will start the season with the Penguins.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) June 25, 2016
With every game that Murray won in the playoffs on the way to a Stanley Cup, speculation continued to build that Fleury could be moved this offseason.
But the play of Murray was not the only reason the speculation continued to build. There is also the contract situation, with Fleury commanding a $5 million cap hit for another two years and also having a no-trade clause that will force him to be protected in an upcoming expansion draft which could then leave Murray exposed if no other move is made. Rutherford told NHL Network on Saturday afternoon that the expansion draft really isn't a concern to him at this point and that his desire has always been to keep both goalies, mostly because Murray has yet to play a full season in the NHL.
All of that is almost certainly true, and it does make a lot of sense to keep both for now. But the reality is that at some point they are going to have to do something with this situation not only because of expansion and the salary cap (Rutherford estimates the Penguins are about $1 million under the salary cap with almost the entire roster signed for next season), but also because both goalies should be good enough to be full-time starters. The longer it goes, the tougher it is going to get.
The biggest reason Fleury is still a Penguin right now might simply be the fact there was no market for Fleury at this time.
Not because he isn't good -- because he is -- but because nobody else in the NHL really had a need for him.
The Calgary Flames were the only team really in the market for a goalie and they had several options to look at. They ended up trading a second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick in 2018 to the St. Louis Blues for Brian Elliott. Elliott finished the 2015-16 season with the best save percentage in the NHL and only counts $2.5 million against the salary cap. It is tough to compete with that.