Dreger on Penguins’ 2018-19 struggles

The Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t been in stellar form yet this season, and the trade winds continue to swirl.

Darren Dreger had a Thursday morning radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690, and he dropped a few noteworthy Penguins-related tidbits during the conversation.

The team has actually collected eight points out of a possible 12 in its past six affairs and is only six points out of first place in the Metropolitan Division; but with Wednesday night’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche, morning show host Conor McKenna posited that “a lot of the goodwill that had sort of been generated in the last couple of games for the Penguins seems to have evaporated.”

McKenna wanted to know “what’s going on with the Penguins. What’s looking more and more like a lost season for them. One of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference so far this year. We keep sort of waiting for them to right this ship, and it’s not happening.”

“Well, they would debate that in terms of the last four or five games,” countered Dreger. “And you’re right, we’re looking at last night’s game and they lose 6-3. And they wouldn’t lose too many games, I wouldn’t think, when Sidney Crosby has the hat trick.

“Their goaltending has been inconsistent. Matt Murray was inconsistent when he was healthy. They look at Casey DeSmith, they look at Tristan Jarry, and they see future in those two goaltenders - certainly in Tristan Jarry. But is it a little too much too soon.

“DeSmith played against the Winnipeg Jets, I was at that game on Tuesday. I thought he was okay. He let in one bad goal, and he was off his angle on Mark Scheifele’s second, but I think that’s why that combination - in terms of Pittsburgh looking to the future - is why slowly and somewhat quietly we were starting to hear the mutterings of the possibility of speculation of Matt Murray perhaps being a trade commodity at some point down the road when he gets healthy again.

“But all of that aside, they need a higher level of goaltending. I had a quick chat with Jimmy Rutherford before the game in Winnipeg, and man do they miss Justin Schultz. Years ago, it would have been unthinkable to say that about Justin Schultz when he was cast aside by the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh snapped him up and won two Stanley Cups. But that type of puck-moving defenseman who can control the pace to some degree, they’re struggling without him.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rutherford and the Penguins try and acquire some form of puck-moving defenseman in the future, but it’s difficult to do.

“He said to me that he feels that this team has as good a chance as any Penguins team that he’s been associated with, and that’s saying a lot considering what they’ve managed to win since Rutherford was named GM.”

Murray is in the second season of a three-year, $11.25 million contract that carries a cap hit of $3.75 million.

The 10-9-5 Penguins are off until Saturday, when they’ll host the Philadelphia Flyers to kick off a three-game homestand.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly