It’s that time of year again, and rumors are beginning to swirl about what, if anything, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero might do to bolster his club for a playoff run.

First up, talks out of Chicago suggest the reason for Jay McKee’s absence last night could have something to do with a trade.

Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald reports the Blackhawks are shopping for a defender and McKee fits the bill.

Sassone writes: “The 32-year-old McKee is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound physical, stay-at-home defenseman who interested the Hawks last summer before he signed as a free agent with the Penguins for only $800,000 after being bought out by St. Louis.”

This is precisely why such a trade seems unlikely. The Penguins, already lacking in the big, physical defenseman department, aren’t going to be quick to send their top shot blocker to a Stanley Cup contender — that is, unless the return is worthwhile, like a scoring winger. The problem is, McKee isn’t likely to fetch a scoring winger, making this rumor unlikely to come true.

Moving eastward, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch blogged of league-wide interest in overachieving winger Raffi Torres, specifically mentioning the Penguins as a team that is “said to be interested.”

Portzline writes: “Torres, 28, is making $2.75 million this season, and it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t earned it. Despite long stretches on the club’s fourth line, he ranks fourth in goals (16), third in power-play goals (six) and is tied for first in game-winning goals (three) in only 13:27 of average ice time.”

While not the elite winger Penguins fans would love, Torres plays a hard-nosed, crease crashing game that has been missing from the lineup since the free agency departure of Ryan Malone nearly two years ago.

Torres doesn’t have the natural skill Malone possesses, but he makes a living in front of the net and would be a welcomed addition to the team.

And, while Torres doesn’t have extensive playoff experience, Portzline writes that passion and intensity, two traits coveted on playoff teams, are there.

“On a club with only a sporadic competitive spirit, Torres, R.J. Umberger and Derek Dorsett arguably have been the Blue Jackets’ most consistently passionate players.”

This one just might have some legs, folks.

As talks heat up leading to the March 3 trade deadline, we’ll bring you more media-reported rumors that involve the Penguins