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Penguins GM Rutherford wanted to ‘change the mix’ with Neal trade

Jun 27, 2014, 10:59 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Getty Images

Jim Rutherford is beginning to put his stamp on the Pittsburgh Penguins as the new general manager. He started that by trading James Neal to the Nashville Predators for winger Patric Hornqvist and center Nick Spaling.

It was the biggest trade made during the actual draft, following a flurry of activity, particularly from the Vancouver Canucks earlier in the day.

“I think we were just trying to change the mix of our team a little bit and get a little different type player,” Rutherford told reporters in Philadelphia.

“Hornqvist plays with an edge, goes to the net, works the corners. We like his all-around play.”

A talented forward who has proven to be a scorer in the NHL – he put up a career-high 40 goals only two years ago – Neal has also dealt with injuries on numerous occasions, including concussions, and has run afoul of the league’s player safety department and, as a result, has received supplemental discipline.

His most recent transgression: kneeing Boston Bruins agitator Brad Marchand in the head in December, resulting in a five-game ban.

Rutherford was asked about whether the suspensions played a part in why Neal was traded.

“Everything comes into play when we’re looking at possibly moving a player,” he said.

Meanwhile, the other team is this trade, the Predators, not only land the scoring forward it coveted, but could be taking a shot at landing a center when free agency officially opens up.

That could certainly spark speculation the Predators could be eying pending unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny, who has confirmed he will test the market. Nashville’s club doesn’t appear to be alone in that pursuit.

On Thursday, there was a report from TSN’s Pierre LeBrun that as many as 15 teams had interest in the 28-year-old Stastny.

Stay tuned.

  1. 6superbowls - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:37 PM

    Marchand still gets four stars four the acting job he put on that game.

    • sizzle299 - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:46 PM

      let it go man

    • lordstanley65 - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:57 PM

      Really. Get a grip!

    • drewzducks - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:29 AM

      Sid is the biggest actress in the NHL

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:55 AM

      Yeah you’re right. He could be raping broads in the bathroom like Big Ben.

  2. budzo83 - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    @6superbowls- I know, what a scumbag. Dude needs to learn how to take a knee to the skull!

  3. rsmaggiemae - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    I cant imagine Neal in Nashville
    I live in Minnesota and went to a Wild game in Nashville and yes the fans are quite different shall I say…
    it was almost like civil war era,vests,hats,boots , southern belles etc
    We kind of laughed to ourselves this how you dress for hockey???
    We sat next to couple who thought they knew all about hockey, so I asked him a simple question about face offs and he didnt have a clue what I was talking about and he said he has had season tickets since the start of the Preds… I know it takes time to learn hockey but 17 years and you still dont understand about face offs???
    We will never go to Nashville again for a game….not our style of hockey and I dont intend to be mean to Preds fans, but just calling it as we saw it….
    I am sure Neal will have to make a huge adjustment in Nashville compared to Pitt

    • claudegirwho - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:33 AM

      Neal did use to play in texas

    • c9castine - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:04 AM

      will certainly be a lot less pressure on him and attention.

      probably good for him.

      • broadstreetbeatdown - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:36 AM

        Less pressure and attention to do what. Unnoticed and indiscriminate head hunting?

    • deathbyspl - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      I didn’t realize fashion was such an important part of hockey in Minnesota.

  4. rushledger - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:21 AM

    Neal will be willing to make due if they can find a center at free agency, would have liked to see Sid with Neal but there’s no denying our depth sucks in Pittsburgh so something had to be done.

  5. shamu1the1whale - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:34 AM

    All I can say is: W-T-F!!??? I’m shocked and bummed in a big way. I wonder how Geno feels about all this. W-T-F!!??

    • c9castine - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:06 AM

      geno will get over it.

      im thinking jussi jokinen can be signed still, especially if martin gets moved. you move martin for a skilled but younger guy who comes at a cheaper price for the blue line and whatever else and signing jokinen and filling out the offense gets a lot easier to do right.

      its a shame we cant buy out scuderi.

  6. chanceoffleury - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:00 AM

    Well if Neal ever had a chance to prove he really is the real deal and not just a 100% product of playing with 71 now will be his chance. Preds may find a center, but ain’t no way in hell it’ll be anything close to an Evgeni Malkin. Preds should actually look into Jokinen. He’s used to playing with Neal, seems like he’d be a good fit for Lavy’s system, will probably not be horrible on their wallet, and would help the Preds shootout woes. He’s such a versatile player, too. Can play wing, center, do shootouts, is responsible enough on D. At the end of the day I hope he stays a Pen, but Nashville could use a player like that. Richards is another inevitable option and name to be brought into the conversation if the Preds are interested, too. Richards had his best seasons together with Neal in Dallas. Then he went to NY and Neal to Pittsburgh, and well, now we’re here. Not saying that’s a good idea, but depending on the price Nashville may take a 2 or 3 year contract with him with a low cap hit. Nashville’s a pretty dang good team, especially with a healthy Rinne wanting a bounce back season. They’re not too far removed from the playoffs. Depending on what Richards would be willing to take and whether the Flyers are willing to hold on to a part of Lecavalier’s salary or not, Richards may be a decent option for the Preds. Hopefully it turns into a Seguin-like situation and Neal settles down a little bit to find his own identity and role by playing under the radar in a less scrutinized market like Nashville.

    • darksidecowboy - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Getting Richards would make some sense, teaming him up with Neal.

    • valoisvipers - Jun 29, 2014 at 1:14 AM

      Neal was good when he played in Dallas too.

  7. bubblehead22 - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:04 AM

    Or choking dogs, or choking period since 1975. Maybe barfing on the 50 yard line? The whole country literally hates you philly fan, just stfu, go morn the loss of your best player, Hartnell the clown..

  8. titansbro - Jun 28, 2014 at 6:56 AM

    I guess they didn’t realize there was a dress code for hockey games, or an an entrance exam.

  9. pj608 - Jun 28, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    Giving that Neal and Malkin had just as much Chemistry as Crosby and (BJ) Kunitz. I think this was a dumb move for Pit. Think Nashville got a good player, something they needed for a long while.

    • darksidecowboy - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      With Letang’s contract kicking in, they had to make some cuts. The bigger issue is what to do with that mammoth contract Letang has, especially with the health issues.

      • pj608 - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:29 AM

        true. thats their own fault though. They have what? 3 players signed for over 8 mil. Tough to have depth when your team is set up like that

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