Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s GM for a Day contest received a fair amount of submissions before our midnight Sunday cutoff. To be the Pittsburgh Penguins GM for a day with full autonomy elicited the kind of responses we hoped for and expected. Most of our submissions tried to trade Jack Johnson. Some traded him for nothing, and one dealt him in a package to Buffalo for Rasmus Ristolainen.
We haven’t pointed this out before because we thought it was obvious, but just in case, this contest is in no way affiliated with the Pittsburgh Penguins or the NHL. You won’t actually get to be the GM. You won’t sit in Jim Rutherford’s chair or get to rummage through his drawers, either.
These are the other three submissions which will be included on the ballot. Voting will begin tomorrow after we publish some of our more well-meaning, and amusing submissions. Voting will take place on Facebook, Twitter, and a post here on Pittsburgh Hockey Now.
Submission #4: Hatrick Pornqvist
It’s hard to be a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Really hard. No sarcasm. I mean it.
Five Stanley Cups? Ouch. Three in 9 years, including back to backs? You poor things. A who’s who of NHL legends donning our jerseys over the span of multiple decades? Should I stop whining now?
Things are actually looking up. It’s been a good offseason.
Mr. Pornqvist is actually quite content. Could they be better? Of course, any team’s D could be. But in his opinion, things are extremely far from the scorched earth dystopian Mad Max post-apocalyptic hellscape that so many poor souls lament about online on a daily basis. The expectations of the Penguins faithful are a heavy, heavy burden. They just need a nap. All is well.
We are younger. We are faster. We have a room that’s ready to come back together. The only way to go is up. The cherry on top? We have a phenomenal new GM, just for a day, and his name is Hatrick Pornqvist. And he has a plan. Here’s what it is:
First of all, the forward group looks as good as it has in ages. Look at the options down the middle. Sid, Geno, Bjugstad, McCann, Blueger, and even Galchenyuk. Any team in the league would be thrilled to have that. And the last four can play wing. Versatility, speed, size, skill. It’s all there.
Now, what do we have on the wings? Well, we lost Phil Kessel, may he rest in Phoenix. That’s what I assume R.I.P. stands for in hockey. But look at our wingers. Pretty nice crop there. Guentzel, McCann, Hornqvist, Galchenyuk, Rust, Kahun, Bjugstad, Tanev, ZAR, Simon. That’s a good bunch. Very good.
In net? All good, nothing to see here people.
So as GM for a day, all that leaves me, is the D. But are they really that big of an issue? This GM thinks no. And he really doesn’t want to do much.
For this new GM For a day, most of the hard work has been done already by his colleague, peer, and clear equal, Mr. Jim Rutherford (he deserves the respect of having his name mentioned here alongside GMHP, he’s earned that).
GMJR is correct in believing the D is not an issue. Asking Juuso Riikola to play 82 games plus the playoffs is not the right play at this juncture. Trading away whipping boy Jack Johnson for cap space to make room for young Juuso to do it is imprudent. Depth is better. Options are better. That’s what we have now. We need to leave it and not turn a strength into a weakness that hinges on a gamble on an unproven youngster. GMHP doesn’t want to see 1 or 2 injuries force his team to have 2 or 3 guys in his lineup that played a lot of AHL minutes last year. He wants to see what that defence that played so well late in the regular season is capable of, before messing with it or taking unnecessary risks.
Things can wait. Mr. Pornqvist wants to see what pans out this coming season first. It’s a prudent move. Ignore the online mob. That’s the plan. Marcus Petterssen doesn’t need 20 minutes a night right now. One day he will. He’s that good. But it’s not worth rushing. The D can handle things the way they are built right now. We’ve actually witnessed it already. The delegation of blue line minutes can be handled in-season by the future hall of fame coach Mike Sullivan, not forced on him from above.
There’s just really a tiny bit of housekeeping to do. Maybe one tough decision. How do we get Petterssen, ZAR, and Blueger signed while leaving this team as intact as possible?
How? Lose a winger. A guy who’s had some big moments. A guy who teams want. A guy who gives us the money we need. A guy who we have reasonable fill-ins for right now. A guy named Bryan Rust.
He’s the unfortunate consequence of having everything else in place and having a lot of good NHL wingers. Trade him to a young team, that can absorb his cap hit and wants to challenge for a playoff spot. A western conference team. One we have a history of doing business with. One who might want a good young goalie from Western Canada. One that likes Swedish prospects and players.
From them get a player with speed. [A player improving year to year who may be underrated. One who we can make the money work with. One that can do what Rust did bit with more potential upside. Maybe more than just a bit. Maybe lots. One who’s been in rumour mills for a long time and needs a change of scenery, and may not be part of the future plans for his current team. Make a good sensible trade for both teams.
Trade Bryan Rust, Tristan Jarry, and Fillip Hallander to the Vancouver Canucks for Jake Virtanen. Do it now.
Now sign ZAR to a 3-year deal at $1.2M per year. Sign Blueger for 2 years at $925k. Go get Marcus Petterssen to sign for 4 years at $2.3M. GMHP is done. He hands the reigns back to his contemporary and mentor GMJR.
The opening night roster is:
Guentzel Crosby McCann
Galchenyuk Malkin Virtanen
Kahun Bjugstad Hornqvist
ZAR Blueger Tanev
Mr. Pornqvist’s work is over. Chill. Wait for training camp. Enjoy your summer. Calm down. Scope out a good spot to watch the parade. You’re welcome.
Editors note: We hade to remove sections of this awesome submission to fit within the 1000 word rule. Some pretty funny stuff.
Submission #5 Josh Houser
PART 1: THE ROSTER MOVES
Step 1: Re-sign Teddy Blueger & Marcus Pettersson.
Step 2: Offer Zach-Aston Reese & Erik Grudbranson to the Ottawa Senators for a 2021 4th round pick.
Step 3: Offer Nick Bjugstad, Jack Johnson, Casey DeSmith & a 2020 4th round pick to the Minnesota Wild for Jason Zucker with 1 million retained salary.
Step 4: Offer Filip Hallander, a 2021 2nd round pick & a 2022 3rd round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for the RFA rights to Nikita Gusev.
Step 5: Sign Nikita Gusev to a 2-year deal worth 3.75 million per year.
Step 6: Sign UFA Ben Lovejoy to a 1-year contract worth 1.4 million.
Mike Sullivan always preaches about how he loves to roll 4 lines. Here is a perfect example of that mentality coming to life. There is depth throughout every single line and every line is hard to play against especially our checking lines.
Our depth here is nowhere near as strong as our forwards. However, it is time to figure out 2 very important questions. Can Marcus Pettersson handle a top 4 role & can Juuso Riikola handle an 82 game season as a regular? Only time will tell but we have capable backups in Ruhwedel and Trotman.
With this 23 man roster listed above and the contracts we have handed out, we would still be below the cap ceiling by roughly 1 million. GMJR likes going into the season with at least 1 million worth of cap space so I kept that in mind while putting together the 2019-2020 Pittsburgh Penguins.
I have laid out a plan for both GMJR and Mike Sullivan, now it is their time to execute it and bring home another Stanley Cup. Sullivan may have to tweak the line combinations until he finds the correct mixture but he has all the ingredients he needs in his forwards. As for the d-pairings, he may need Rutherfords help in addressing the 2nd and 3rd LD if Pettersson or Riikola begin to stumble. Other than that, Mike Sullivan and GMJR can sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of their summers on vacation knowing they have a Stanley Cup contender when camp arrives in September.
Submission #6: CC Smith
Considering the roster is pretty well stacked with talent and hard to move contracts, few feasible moves are available. The one area that logically makes sense for a trade is the defense. If a contract is moved out from defense, the Penguins can maintain a decent level of depth at the forward position by signing ZAR and Teddy B.
This brings us to Jack Johnson and Eric Gudbranson. JJ is actually the easier of the two to move. The lower cap hit helps, but the term hurts. A one-for-one trade likely does not help the Pens as a team would want similar term/money going back. Therefore JJ would need to be moved to a team in need of a left-handed D and with cap space to burn. That leaves LA as my destination for Johnson.
The offer would be JJ and a 2022 3rd for Kurtis MacDermid. This would free up over 2.5 million in space for Pens and they would receive a righty depth Dman. As for the Kings, they get JJ but a third-round pick. If necessary, I would use the 2nd round over the 3rd because I value Teddy B as much as what that pick would likely bring.
With the 1.5 and 2.5 saved, the Pens have 4 million to work with. I start with a 3-year, $6 million offer to Pettersson. Blueger for 2-years, $1.75 million and ZAR, 1-year, $1 million.
With all roster moves involved that should leave the Pens with about 1 million in cap space.
Bonus Submission: Sandy from Sweden
1) The first is to make a trade with Anaheim
Jack Johnson and Dominik Simon <> 3rd (and maybe if you can get Josh Mahura?).
Pittsburgh SAVES $4 million.
2) Resign our RFA:s.
-Marcus Pettersson 1.4million/3 year
-Zach Ashton-Reese 950k/2 year
-Teddy Blueeger 750k/2 year.
COST 3.1 million
3) Send Zach Trotman and Chad Ruhwedel down.
Save 1.4 million.
So cap space so far is $3.89 million.
Next step, what do we need?
Lineup so far
So what do we need?
Free agents left:
1) Michael Ferland 3million/4year could be worth it.
2) Jason Pominville 1million/1year fourth line experience
3)Ben Hutton for 2.5 million/2 year can play 3-pairing with Gudbranson if Riikola is a bust.
Either off them above would I be Ok with.
-Rust $3.5 million I think we can move him because the new guys can fill in for him.
If we could move him in maybe a bigger trade for a defenseman/forward with Galchenyuk/Schultz/Jarry.
Some targets to look at:
-Ramus Ristolainen. I know everyone thinks he is bad but playing behind Letang would benefit him.
-Artturi Lehkonen. Just get him
-Scott Mayfield. Nice contract and plays the game smart.
-R. Rakell would be awesome with us
-Dougie Hamilton as the number 2 guy behind Letang yikes
-Oskar Sundqvist. Get him back. He was great in the playoffs.
-Nicholas Ehlers with that speed………
Editors Note: If you write from Sweden, you get published! Thanks, Sandy. The trade targets are interesting. We’re sorry Ferland didn’t work out for your team.
Check back tomorrow for some interesting submissions and the start of voting! Leave your comments below. Respect required.