Craig Adams

Rutherford: Pittsburgh ‘very appealing’ for free agents, even with ownership situation


Penguins GM Jim Rutherford says the big news of this week — that owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle are exploring a possible sale — won’t affect how the club works free agency.

“Nothing changes as far as how we run hockey operations,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We have a great city to play in and the best facilities of anyone in the league with the opening of our new practice facility.

“That should be very appealing to a free agent.”

Just prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, TSN broke news that Lemieux and Burkle hired Morgan Stanley “to explore the possibility of selling some or all of the NHL franchise.”

Shortly thereafter, the Pens released a statement:

“We conduct periodic reviews of our business and, because we have received several inquiries about the franchise in recent years, we decided to engage Morgan Stanley for their insight and counsel.

“After buying the team out of bankruptcy, ensuring its long-term future in Pittsburgh and creating a strong foundation for continued success, we believe it is time to explore our options.”

Before the club can begin exploring free agents, it needs to reach decisions on the eight players set to become UFAs: Daniel Winnik, Maxim Lapierre, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau, Paul Martin, Thomas Greiss, Christian Ehrhoff and Craig Adams. One decision has already been made — Adams has been told he won’t be brought back — and Ehrhoff’s agent recently suggested his client will go to July 1.

The club also needs a new deal for RFA forward Beau Bennett, and RFA d-men Ian Cole and Brian Dumoulin.

Agent: Ebbett getting European interest, but focused on staying with Pens


This week, a report from news outlet Berner Zeitung claimed that SC Bern, the powerhouse Swiss league team coached by Guy Boucher, was likely to sign Pittsburgh forward Andrew Ebbett.

Today, Ebbett’s agent clarified the situation.

“Andrew has had a lot of interest from European clubs,” Legacy Global Sports’ Alec Schall told PHT, via email. “At this time we are focusing on returning to the Pittsburgh organization.”

Ebbett, 32, just wrapped the last of a two-year, two-way, $1.1M deal that paid $550,000 at the NHL level. He was up and down between Pittsburgh and AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, scoring six points in 24 games with the Pens; he also lit up the American League, as he’s done throughout his career — Ebbett had 44 points in 44 games for the Baby Pens, and another seven in eight playoff appearances.

With over 200 NHL games on his resume and some very good years in the past — lest we forget that, in 2008-09, Ebbett scored 32 points in 48 games with the Ducks — it’s not surprising to hear the pending UFA wants to stick with in Pittsburgh.

But how that shakes out remains to be seen. The team projects to have around $11 million in cap space, with a number of other veteran UFAs to make decisions on, specifically d-men Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff, and forwards Blake Comeau, Steve Downie, Daniel Winnik and Maxim Lapierre.

On the RFA front, Beau Bennett and Ian Cole need new deals. It’s also worth noting Pittsburgh has already told 38-year-old forward Craig Adams he won’t be brought back next season.

Pens tell long-serving Adams he won’t be back next year


Veteran forward Craig Adams, who’s spent the last seven seasons in Pittsburgh, has reportedly been told by GM Jim Rutherford that he won’t be brought back for the 2015-16 campaign, per the Post-Gazette.

The news was also tweeted out by Adams’ agent, Neil Sheehy.

Adams, 38, was plucked off waivers by Pittsburgh in 2009 and went onto achieve a pretty high level of success for a wire claim, scoring five points in 24 games to help the Pens win the Stanley Cup that year. From there, he went on to appear in nearly 500 regular season contests for the club and served as the team’s player representative in a number of union matters.

A Harvard grad, Adams was slowly phased out of the Pens’ rotation this year and didn’t participate in any of the club’s opening-round playoff series loss to the Rangers.

Penguins need more from their depth forwards


Jim Rutherford knows Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can’t do it all. In fact, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ GM has talked openly about his team needing to “win games with our third and fourth lines,” should the two superstars get shut down.

Unfortunately for Rutherford, his third and fourth lines — dramatically altered since last season — aren’t delivering. Beau Bennett has just three goals in 46 games; Maxim Lapierre has no goals in 32; Craig Adams has one in 68; and it’s not like Daniel Winnik and Nick Spaling are lighting it up either.

Thank goodness for Brandon Sutter and his respectable 19 goals. He was the only to score Sunday versus Philly.

Meanwhile, Steve Downie’s 14 goals aren’t bad. If only he could stop taking so many penalties.

This is not news to Penguins fans. Forward depth was an issue that needed fixing after last season. It was an unknown heading into this one.

“That’s what teams try to do to us,” Rutherford said in February. “They try to shut [Crosby and Malkin] down. If they shut those guys down, and you don’t have enough balance on your third and fourth line where you can score periodically, then you can’t win.”

The Penguins head into tonight’s suddenly huge game versus the Senators with just three wins in their last 12. Of the 19 goals they’ve managed during that stretch, Crosby has either scored or assisted on 11 of them. It’s time for some of his teammates to help out.

Bruins pass Capitals with fifth straight win


Milan Lucic scored his 15th of the season and Tuukka Rask made 30 saves as the Boston Bruins blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Zdeno Chara added an empty-netter in the final minute.

With the win, Boston has now won five straight and seven of its last nine and moves past the Washington Capitals for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins have a game in hand on the Caps.

Boston’s win coupled with Detroit’s loss in Philly leaves the Bruins just three points back of the Wings in the Atlantic Division. Detroit has one game in hand.

Pittsburgh played much of the game without both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

Crosby was a late scratch from the lineup due to illness and replaced by Craig Adams following the pre-game skate.

Malkin took a hit from Chris Kelly on his first shift of the game and was shaken up. He left the game briefly, but returned to finish the first period. He did not return to start the second.

Rask’s shutout was his third of the season and the 26th of his career.

Thomas Greiss made 28 saves in the loss.

With Saturday’s victory, Boston wins the season series taking two of three from Pittsburgh. The Penguins won the first meeting 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 24. The Bruins edged the Pens with a 3-2 overtime win on Jan. 7.