We have a winner in the Pittsburgh Hockey Now “Penguins GM for a Day” contest, and that submission will be printed below for your argument, approval, or disapproval. I’ll add a few comments, especially on the Pittsburgh Penguins Trade section, too. Sam Reinhart and Linus Ullmark signed deals in Buffalo, but neither got want they wanted. The Score is upping their original content with a look at the six players who could still hit the NHL trade block this offseason.
First, the Pittsburgh Penguins appear to be done adding and shuffling players this offseason. However, not every league source we spoke to believes the Penguins will rest. A few believe the Penguins could reignite a free agent chase (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
Whew, a few people certainly inserted what they wanted to see into the above story. Don’t do that!
The six players who could still hit the NHL trade block (The Score)
Sam Reinhart and Linus Ullmark signed one-year deals in Buffalo, which avoided arbitration. Neither got what they wanted (Buffalo News)
This is the second time Reinhart has signed a short-term deal. He scored 23 goals this season, and we’re not sure why Buffalo is dragging their feet. The kid could either bring a haul back on the trade market or put his name on paper for a long time. Contract games are an easy way to build distrust.
Did you see those retro San Jose Sharks jerseys which paid tribute to the California Golden Seals? In the words of Elaine Benes, “Fake, fake, fake fake” (San Jose Hockey Now)
Are the Boston Bruins the next team to write a “Rebuilding” letter to their fans? (Boston Hockey Now)
Should the New York Islanders go strong to the paint after Anthony Duclair? Christian Arnold says heck yes (NYI Hockey Now)
Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Pittsburgh Penguins GM for a Day Contest Winners:
The submissions were tougher to create this offseason. The offseason’s compressed nature and Jim Rutherford’s swift Penguins trade for Kasperi Kapanen took the stick out of most people’s hands. However, some brave souls took us up on our challenge. We’ve edited for brevity. Here is the winner:
When looking at the Penguins window, I believe they have a maximum of 2 more years to compete for a Stanley cup during the Crosby-Malkin Era. With that in mind, I will start with Penguins Trades then cover my Free Agency plan.
- Keep the Bjugstad trade the same. It will be tough to move Bjugstad under any other circumstances. I did contemplate keeping Bjugstad as the 3rd line center but felt it was just best to move on at this point and use the cap space elsewhere.
- Rather than draft picks, package Jack Johnson and Matt Murray to Ottawa for Johnathan Gruden or future considerations. I felt this was the best option because it eliminates Johnson’s cap hit in entirety vs. buying him out. Additionally, the second-round pick doesn’t serve to help the Penguins in the near term.
- Trade Hornqvist, 1st round pick, & Legare for Johnny Gaudreau. I’m not sure if Rutherford took a shot at acquiring Gaudreau, but I feel he is in a similar situation as Kessel in 2015, where a change of scenery could make all of the difference. Additionally, not sure if Calgary would accept this proposal unless the Penguins swap Legare for Poulin – what are your thoughts?
**Dan’s Thoughts: Right ballpark, but Ottawa had a glut of second-round picks. I don’t think a Penguins trade with Johnson was possible, but it’s plausible. For Gaudreau, Calgary most certainly would have forced the Penguins to part with Poulin, and we’re not sure they would have accepted Hornqvist. Likely, Calgary would have insisted on another legit asset, such as a young defenseman, too. But, you’re in the right church if Calgary would have gone forward.
Let’s start with what I would do the same:
Re-sign: Riikola, Ruhwedel, Jarry, McCann
Let Walk: Schultz, Sheary
What I would do differently:
There were some serious bargains this free agency period given the financial climate around the NHL. Three that I really liked were:
- 1. Turris for 2 yr – 1.65M AAV contract to be 3rd line center
- 2. Stecher for 2 yr – 1.7M AAV to be 3rd pair RD to be paired with Riikola or P-O Joseph
- 3. Namestnikov for 2 yr – 2M AAV to be 3rd line forward
If my math is correct, these moves should leave just about as much cap room left as the Penguins currently have.
**Dan’s notes: The cap numbers are a little fuzzy. So, we’ll have to scratch the Namestnikov signing, but we think you could afford the first two. It would certainly be possible without the Penguins trade for Mike Matheson.
The new lines would be:
Guentzel – Crosby – Gaudreau
Zucker – Malkin – Rust
Mccann – Turris – Namestnikov
Tanev – Blueger – Lafferty/Aston-Reese
Dumoulin – Letang
Pettersson – Marino
Riikola/PO Joseph – Stecher
You could argue whether these final lines are better than where the Penguins ended up. Still, I like the forward group’s flexibility in the sense that Sullivan can do quite a bit of tinkering if he needs to find the right combinations. I also feel Gaudreau is better than Kapanen, even on his off-wing, and Turris is better than Jankowski. This is a tough offseason assignment, so you’ve got to give Rutherford credit for sticking to his word and mixing up the team, but I think he did potentially miss some opportunities. That being said, you never know how a team will mesh together until they actually start to play, so I’m hoping Rutherford pulled another one out of the hat with his bold moves this offseason.
**Congrats, Henry, on a job well done.