Even though David Perron performed admirably as a Pittsburgh Penguin, general manager Jim Rutherford is trying to get back what he gave up to land him.
Rutherford traded away his first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft (along with winger Rob Klinkhammer) to the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 2 for Perron, who contributed 12 goals and 22 points in 43 games with Pittsburgh but failed to find the net in the post-season.
Now he wants to deal his way back into the first round.
“I’ll certainly pursue it,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sunday. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to pick up one or not.”
With the Penguins’ late fall in the standings and quick exit from the playoffs, the Perron pick became the 16th overall selection.
Six teams have multiple first-round picks in the deep 2015 draft. At least two of them — the Oilers and Buffalo Sabres — have publicly expressed interest in dealing their extra first-rounder for a player who can make a more immediate impact. (Granted, it was former Oilers GM Craig MacTavish who made the statement, but one must believe Peter Chiarelli would be open to offers.)
A third team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, sounds like it will keep its second first-rounder, No. 24 overall.
“We have to make a good pick and hit on that one,” Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas told Sportsnet last month.
The rebuilding Arizona Coyotes will likely take a similar approach with its extra first-rounder (via Chicago), but Philadelphia and Winnipeg, who also hold two Round 1 picks, are closer to contending and may be convinced to deal.
“There are some teams that have acquired an abundance of first-round picks, and they may not need them all,” Rutherford told the Post-Gazettte. “I’ve actually talked to a couple of those teams already.”
Dan Bylsma, who is interviewing for vacant coaching jobs, is still under contract by the Penguins, and there might be an opportunity for Pittsburgh to seek draft-choice compensation if and when he signs with a competing team.
“We don’t want to jeopardize what [Ray Shero and Bylsma] could do going forward,” said Rutherford, who did not seek a pick from New Jersey when Shero joined their front office. “We’ll just wait to see who Dan possibly could get hired by, and make that decision at the time.”