PITTSBURGH — The Penguins knew going into Day 1 of the NHL’s free agency Friday that they weren’t going to make any franchise-changing moves.
That doesn’t mean they couldn’t try to make progress on their offseason to-do list, though, and Jim Rutherford believes his first two signings will go a long way toward rebuilding the team’s third line, a priority heading into 2020-21. Forward Evan Rodrigues, who finished last season with the Penguins before being sent to the Maple Leafs in the Kasperi Kapanen trade in August, and center Mark Jankowski, late of the Flames, signed matching one-year, $700,000 deals.
And while roles won’t be settled until training camp -- or maybe later -- Rutherford said he has those two penciled in alongside Jared McCann on the No. 3 line, with McCann shifting to left wing and Jankowski playing in the middle.
“That gives us speed on the wings,” Rutherford said. “It gives us the defensive center we’re looking for. I don’t want to compare Jankowski to (Nick) Bonino ... but it’s more along those lines of what we had when we were having more success in ’16 and ’17.”