Sunday, July 31, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Speedy versatile forward who has played 10 seasons in the NHL. He has a nasty shot, can quarterback a powerplay and do some PK work also. He has scored 21 and 19 goals in his best two seasons in the NHL. He may start in Wilkes Barre, but he could also very quickly fill a role with the Penguins.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
From TPB with some minor adaptations
So after the free agency waters calmed and it became apparent that the bulk of the movement was over, I spent a little bit of time looking over the Pens page on Capgeek. A few things immediately stood out.
= THANK GOD Shero chose to address re-making the defense LAST summer and not this summer. Can’t help but think that was at least in part by design, as he’s mentioned it in some media appearances over the last week. Then again, King Shero may just like patting himself on the back a little, too. But why not? Last year, $9 million in cap space netted Shero Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin. This year, he kicked back, lit up a stogie, poured out a pina colada and laughed it up with the rest of management as they saw what $9.5 million in cap space got – Christian Ehrhoff and James Wisniewski.
= It’s been a year, and I’m still amazed that Shero got Matt Cooke at a cap hit of $1.4 million a year, while Toronto – which didn’t need to overspend on players to get to the salary floor – dropped $3 million a year on Colby Armstrong. I’m a huge fan of Armstrong, and I thought that was crazy.
= Fast-forward to this year. Emo McPhee decided to commit $3 million a year for each of the next four years to Joel Ward. Joel Ward’s a nice player to have on your team. 10 goals and 19 assists last year (admittedly down from 13-21-34 the year before). Physical guy. Hard worker. He’s a good glorified role player.
By comparison, though, Shero managed to bring back Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis on two-year deals for a total of $3.5 million a year in cap space. That’s 21-goal, 45-point Tyler Kennedy and 17-goal, 37-point Pascal Dupuis. Shero got two players who are already known commodities within this system for a fraction over what Washington committed to a very similar player.
The reason I bring this up? Not to poke fun at McPhee – although another image of him staring blankly off into space, wondering how it went wrong is certainly welcome.
I say this because of what really stood out to me on the Capgeek Pens page. Namely, this…
= While this has become an NHL where Ilya Bryzgalov & Christian effing Ehrhoff are now getting ten-year contracts, there isn’t a player on this Pens team signed beyond the 2014-15 season. That may not be a bad thing.
Time, they say, she flies when you’re having fun. Yesterday was four years to the day that Crosby kicked this whole parade off by signing the very contract that’s paying him right now (July 11, 2007). From that point, Shero has set about assembling a core group that has seen four playoff runs, three 100-point regular seasons, two Cup Finals appearances and one Stanley Cup. That’s a great run. Realistically speaking, you really can’t ask for much more than that.
But remember when felt like it would be years before we ever had to think about contract extensions for guys like Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Fleury? Well, guess what? Those days are knocking on the door and will be here in less than a calendar year.
Current CBA rules state that a team cannot begin negotiating an extension with a player until the summer before the final year of his current deal begins.
That means Shero’s next three summers are going to be awfully, awfully busy, as each year he’ll have at least one member of the team’s central core up for new deals. Here’s how it shakes out:
July 1, 2012 = Crosby & Staal can open extension talks
July 1, 2013 = Malkin, Orpik & Letang can open extension talks
July 1, 2014 = Fleury can open extension talks
So maybe it’s a good thing that this summer has been a relatively dead, uneventful one for Pens fans. The next three summers will be much, much different animals.
And yes, the thought of where some of this could go makes me want to puke, too. I have faith that the master plan in place will address keeping the young core of this team together for the long haul though.
This all illustrates a method to Shero’s madness.
This is where secondary deals like getting Kennedy and Dupuis to take less money and term than what they’d get on the open market add up.
This is where bringing back Arron Asham for half the cost and 1/3 the years that it would’ve taken to keep Mike Rupp adds up. We still have about 2.9M open to address that fourth line toughness or another secondary scoring player. Still think we could have gotten Rupper at 1M for 3 years, but hey, who the hell am I?
This is where addressing the occasional need for an enforcer was addressed with a two deal for Steve MacIntyre for the 19 games we may need that kind of player for what will amount to under 500K v 750K for a player like Godard on a one way deal adds up. The thought of MacIntyre executing Gilles on the ice, then returning to the WBS team to eliminate his cap hit until the next time a roach needs exterminated is good business.
This is why a one-year shot at Steve Sullivan for $1.5 million makes a thousand times more sense over the next three years than competing for the likes of Ville Leino or Michael Ryder ever would have made.
Draft and develop. Build a system of depth and trade from strengths in the system to fill needs that emerge at the highest levels. DON’T commit to lengthy deals unless it makes absolute sense. Draft the best available player regardless of organizational depth, you can always trade strengths to address weaknesses. The development of Simon Despres and the depth behind him with Bortuzzo, Stait and Samuelson may allow the trade of one of our core veteran defenseman to free up space for a winger.
All of that amounts to money saved for when it does make the most sense – when it becomes time to lock up your franchise players. Like next summer. July 1, 2012
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Not much going on right now for the Penguins. They signed Alexandre Picard a 6'3" 215lb defenseman with significant NHL experience to a one year deal that would pay him 600K at the NHL level. Is this a move to allow the Pens to move Niskanen and use that nearly 1M in cap space to improve the depth up front, or add a Rupp type grinder? Or is it just a depth move for WBS? I hope the Pens add another crasher upfront, who can play a nasty game, someone like Jesse Winchester? Most of the experts think that both the Capitals and Rangers got decidedly better this offseason, and some think that the Flyers may have as well. The Penguins did very little of note, BUT they did keep the bulk of their players, and getting Crosby and Malkin back is more than the equivalent of any FA signing done anywhere by anyone. I think the Penguins will miss Mike Rupp's size and game, but the more I read up on Steve Sullivan, the more I understand the calculated risk of bringing him in, the better I like it. If you consider the huge dollars being thrown around for marginal players, getting Sullivan at 1.5M for a year looks pretty good. IF he can stay healthy, he could be that speedy threat up front to really compliment either Crosby or Malkin. The guy has been a top notch threat in this league in the past. His health will be a big concern for the team, but all in all I have come to terms with that move. Ok, so if you step back and think about it, the Penguins will come to the table this season with the best center depth in the league, as has been the case for awhile. They will come to the table with as good a top 4 defensive corps as there is in the league, and very solid depth for the 5th-7th spots. They will come to the table for a full season with two wingers in Neal and Sullivan that are more suited for top six roles than the guys they started last year with. Fleury rebounded from a sub par 2009-2010 season to post strong numbers in the absence of Geno and Crosby. We keep hearing reports that Malkin is in great shape and more motivated than he has been in years. There is reason for optimism despite the bigger splash being made by other Eastern conference teams. Remember, the Pens only had 4 periods of play lasgt season with their top 3 centers on the ice to compliment their newly improved defense. A healthy Crosby and a healthy motivated Malkin will make a HUGE difference on this team. Finally, if TK can play at the level he did in the second half of the season, the Penguins will have a top 9 as good as any in the league. 92 days until we start to find out!
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
There is a lot of criticism going around out there about how Ray Shero handled day one of free agency. I would mostly disagree with that criticism as Shero wrapped up most of the Penguins key free agents in cap friendly deals, losing Rupp and Talbot in the process. Listen, the Talbot situation was handled well by Shero. We all loved Mad Max, and his fight with Carcillo seemed to turn the tide in Game 6 of the 2009 Semi Finals, and he did score both goals in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in that same year. Since then, he has done precious little in the regular season or the playoffs, mostly relegated to a fourth line role and penalty killing. He did both well enough,b but he is worth about what Shero offered him in my opinion, and the Flyers will not be happy in the end paying Mad Max nearly 2M per year for five years. Good luck to Talbot, but it was time to move on. As far as Tyler Kennedy goes, Shero did a good job in getting him signed to a slightly below market value number for a shorter term to see if he can really be a 20 goal scorer on a regular basis, not a bad move in my opinion. The pressure will be on TK to produce to stay in that financial neighborhood over the long run, and I think that he will. Shero also locked up Duper for a cap friendly hit of 1.5 M, which will go down as a solid move on his part. Once the negotiations with Rupp starting going south, Shero also locked up Arron Asham to a cap friendly deal at $775,000 for one year to keep some of the grit and sandpaper on that fourth line, another astute move in my opinion. The Penguins lost out on the Jagr sweepstakes, but that is more a function of Jagr being an immature sneaky cocksucker than any bad maneuvering by Shero. The Penguins made a fair offer based on the fact that it was a short list of possible teams, and Pittsburgh was where Jagr's heart was. In the end, Svoboda and Jagr wound up being snakes, and the Flyers overpaid JJ at 3.3M to become a member of their newly revamped lineup. Nothing Shero could do there, and as much as I had wanted to see 68 finish here, the way he handled that situation showed his true colors, and good riddance. I do have two issues with the free agency period that could come back to haunt Shero. I think the Penguins could have signed Rupp at 1.2M per year for three years, and his size, toughness, and character would have made him worth that money. I could understand the move of shorting his offer if the idea was to put that money into a legit scoring winger, but paying an aging, oft injured Steve Sullivan 1.5M even if it is for only one year, seems a bit foolish to me. Hey, a couple years ago Sullivan was a legit 25-30 goal scorer, but his back and groin injuries have limited his action, and his slight frame at 5"9" tall and 162 lbs makes me wonder how much he will contribute over an 82 game schedule. He scored 10 goals last year, about the same as Rupp without the added toughness. I am not a fan of not signing Rupp, and I am not a fan of "wasting" the 1.5 M on Sullivan, but time will tell who is right. The Penguins to me need another large rugged winger to round out the bottom six, OR they need to waste money on a cheap enforcer. This could open the door for a long look at Eric Tangradi for a top six role as well. All in all, the options may have been limited, as the contracts handed out to some mid tier wingers were in the ridiculous realm, and we did not stick our necks out for any long term risk, but we have lost some toughness without adding any reliable scoring. I hope one or the other can be addressed on Day Two of free agency.