Rutherford not ‘aggressively’ trying to trade Fleury
Amid swirling trade rumors, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday that he’s not aggressively trying to move goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
“We might have to make a decision at some point,” Rutherford said before Wednesday’s NHL postseason awards ceremony in Las Vegas. “I’m not aggressively doing anything.”
Rookie Matt Murray led the Penguins to the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup championship earlier this month, taking Fleury’s spot atop the depth chart when the 31-year-old suffered his second concussion of the season at the end of March.
Rutherford said he has pondered how a time-sharing situation between Fleury and Murray would work. The general manager also said he has spoken to Fleury about his future with the team.
“I met with him,” Rutherford said. “He’s handled himself so well. When you talk about 50-50 split, I think guys can buy into that, but if you get into the season and one guy takes over over the other, does that work for both guys? I don’t know, so there’s a lot of things to think about right now.”
The Calgary Sun reported Tuesday that the Flames inquired about Fleury’s availability, and the Penguins asked for the sixth overall pick in Friday’s NHL Draft in return.
Rutherford said his goaltending plans are still dependent on the finalization of the rules for an expansion draft that looms next summer.
The NHL’s board of governors is expected to approve an expansion team for Las Vegas at a meeting Wednesday morning. At some point afterward, guidelines for an expansion draft will be announced.
According to reports, teams only will be allowed to protect one goalie from being drafted. Because Fleury has a limited no-movement clause in his contract, it’s possible the guidelines will require the Penguins to protect him.
Murray, a 22-year-old goalie with a Stanley Cup to his credit, would be a slam-dunk expansion draft choice in that circumstance, so removing Fleury from the roster before then would be paramount.
“I want to see what the guidelines are for expansion, of course. That changes the dynamic for every team,” Rutherford said. “But we have a lot of respect for both our goalies. Murray came in and took us to the Cup through the playoffs. (Jeff) Zatkoff played a key game early on against the Rangers. And Fleury got us there. We didn’t play that well the first two months. Without him, we’re not even in the playoffs. All our goalies contributed.”
Rutherford is in Las Vegas as a finalist for the NHL’s general manager of the year award.
“I got the prize I wanted,” Rutherford said. “I’m not really thinking about this. If by chance it’s awarded to me, I view it more as a team award. You need everybody to have a successful season.”
Between managing the goalie situation and preparing for this weekend’s draft and the start of the free agent signing period July 1, Rutherford said he hasn’t had much time to rest since the Penguins claimed the Cup on June 12.
“You really don’t get time to think about it,” Rutherford said. “You don’t get time to rest. It’s a great accomplishment for the Penguins and once we get into the summer, then we’ll get time to sit back and think about it a little bit.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.