The NHL finally saw a second player change sweaters after accepting an RFA offer sheet from a rival team. Over a decade ago, Dustin Penner signed with the Edmonton Oilers, which raised Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke’s ire, though Penner’s career never reached its ceiling. We do not expect Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall to begin splashing RFA offer sheets or even splash in the NHL trade pool, but there is another move we’d like to see.
Sources were chattering this weekend before the Montreal Canadiens passed on matching the Carolina Hurricanes $6.1 million offer to Jesperi Kotkaniemi, but the talk had little to do with the Ross and Rachael, “will they or won’t they” decision from Montreal. It was about the potential fallout.
And Montreal GM Marc Bergevin didn’t disappoint.
Montreal immediately hit the NHL trade market with the first-round pick they acquired by walking away from Kotkaniemi to acquire Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes. Bergevin will give the better of his 2022 first-round picks for Dvorak.
The most underrated move last week was the Pittsburgh Penguins giving Brian Boyle a PTO.
5 Hot Takes About the Pittsburgh Penguins, Offer Sheets, and the NHL Trade Market
5. Brian Boyle is going to work
In this warped hockey writer’s opinion, the question is not if Brian Boyle works, but what happens when he does. With a full lineup (Malkin included), could Teddy Blueger push Jeff Carter to third-line RW, or Blueger could slide to the wing beside Carter?
The Penguins could have four centers, all 34-years-old or older, if Boyle sticks.
I’ll also lay a few matchsticks that Boyle will fight Tom Wilson on Nov. 14, or Wilson plays a clean game.
4. Dvorak Was the Wrong Choice
The Montreal Canadiens could lose a top-10 pick. I’m not bullish on their team without Shea Weber and an aging Carey Price. The 82-game schedule will present a different grind than last season. A few teams played over their heads because COVID shortened the 2020-21 season, which also shortened the ebbs and flows and allowed teams to go full blast.
The Canadiens were one of those teams able to ratchet up the intensity and gritty defense, which isn’t a replicable strategy in a full 82-game season (the New York Islanders were another).
The 25-year-old Dvorak has not cracked the 40-point barrier in five NHL seasons.
A give you a little sneak peek of the coming “Off the Record” column–not everyone is convinced Dvorak has the necessary work ethic.
Eichel, Eichel, Eichel. The choice produce on the NHL trade market should have been Jack Eichel. Montreal could lose a good bit by giving the better of those first-round picks, but they could have established themselves with a premier center instead of Dvorak. The Islanders were tough but didn’t find playoff success until Mathew Barzal hit his stride.
The Canadiens also lost Philip Danult via free agency.
Nick Suzuki, Dvorak, and Jake Evans are solid but not a fearsome top-three pivot lineup. Eichel-Suzuki-Evans would be infinitely better and allow the Canadiens the build for the future, not just fortify the middle of the lineup.
Montreal is better off today with Dvorak, but they hit a single, not a home run.
3. Just Sign Gudbranson
Sign him, sign him, sign him.
Matt Bartkowski was a nice PTO addition and is good organizational depth. Don’t get too excited about it. While Boyle’s lineup position will be fluid if he makes the team, the Penguins could use regular and reliable toughness on the ice.
Gudbranson. He loved the team. The team loved him. If Gudbranson signs for $2 million somewhere, I’ll withdraw the support; the Penguins can’t afford that. But if he signs elsewhere in the $1 million range, it will be a huge miss.
Since I see others joining the bandwagon, my ego also points out that you and I were first on this one.
2. More Teams Need to Sign RFAs
Would you trade a first-round and third-round pick for a top-three pick about to come into his own? The Carolina Hurricanes overpaid Kotkaniemi, but they can sign him to a multi-year deal before extending a qualifying offer next summer.
Would you trade a first and third-round pick for Rasmus Dahlin and sign him to a $6.4 million deal over three years? There’s no bigger indictment of the NHL’s tight-knit but closed society than the refusal to upset rival GMs with offer sheets.
Get over it.
It’s time for that change in thinking and the fear to subside. The GM who boldly goes “there” will wind up with a few enemies and a good player or two.
I’m sure there’s a legal difference, but I also don’t understand how it is not collusion. The MLB players sued owners in the 1980s for handshake agreements to keep salaries in check. I don’t see much difference here, except that GMs publicly threaten each other not to sign players.
2. Bryan Rust is the Pittsburgh Penguins best winger.
Give it two years, and Kapanen MIGHT become the better winger, but he has to learn the consistency that Rust brings. And yes, I know Jake Guentzel is currently the highest-scoring winger.
Speed. Defense. Tenacity. Intensity. Offense.
1. Jeff Carter, Not Tristan Jarry is THE Key to the Penguins season
Evgeni Malkin will take a while to get to full steam. The Pittsburgh Penguins lost offense with the Jared McCann trade, which GM Ron Hextall has not replaced.
Carter, 36, looked like he was 26-years-old after the Penguins rescued him from the LA Kings. The Penguins desperately need that energy and vibe this season. They need Carter to be a 20-goal, 50-point center, which is a lot to ask of a player who hasn’t cracked the 40-point plateau since he scored 66 in 2016-17 (four seasons ago).
Relax about Tristan Jarry. You’re down the wrong path, there.
I think too many people allowed the emotions of the playoff loss to color their perception of Tristan Jarry. That’s a mistake. I haven’t made much of a dent with my defenses of Jarry, but he’s not a problem. He’s a solid starting goalie that had a bad playoff series. Don’t erase the good because of a bad series.
A second bad series changes things, but I’ll also bet we don’t see a repeat of that.