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Penguins Notebook: RFAs Going, Blomqvist Arrival, & What Changed Malkin?

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Joel Blomqvist

It was nice to go to the rink for a few days. The Pittsburgh Penguins development camp wrapped on Thursday as 2022 first-rounder Owen Pickering teased Luke Devlin about his terrible QB play in the flag football game. The Penguins cast off a handful of RFA prospects, including Jordy Bellerive and Cam Lee, then signed Evgeni Malkin to a four-year deal and Jan Rutta to a three-year deal.

GM Ron Hextall is reshaping the organization from the bottom, and the Penguins’ prospects looked better than previous “rookie camps.”

Full Recap: 

**RFA’s not signed: Danton Heinen, Justin Almeida, Jordy Bellerive, Jan Drozg, Niclas Almari, Cam Lee, Will Reilly, and goalie Alex D’Orio.

Bellerive was a Cinderella story after his first rookie camp nearly five years ago. However, a campfire accident in 2018 set his career back by a couple of years. He was an undrafted free agent from the Lethbridge Hurricanes who earned his way into the Penguins organization, but he just didn’t have the stuff to get to the show. Cam Lee was another “hopeful” free agent who didn’t pan out.

At least Alex D’Orio got to dress for a few playoff games?

**Players signed: Evgeni Malkin (four years, $24.4 million). Maxime Oullette. Dustin Tokarski. Jan Rutta (three years, $2.75 million AAV). Josh Archibald (one year, $900,000). Drake Caggiula (two-way), $750,000.

Why did Malkin sign? What changed on Tuesday, about 12 hours before free agency, that shoved the seemingly tense negotiations headed to free agency into a contract?

“I don’t really know, to be honest,” deadpanned Hextall. “That’s more a question for Geno.”

We all laughed when Hextall said he didn’t know, including the Penguins PR staff, but Hextall wasn’t joking. That’s a story I’d love to hear. Did Malkin have a change of heart? Did he get a late-night call from a teammate? A come-to-Jesus call from his agent? Or was the prospect of putting on another sweater just that revolting?

The Rutta signing was astute. You can’t pass up a defenseman like that, especially at that price. He’ll make the Pittsburgh Penguins better despite forcing Hextall to dump another defenseman.

**Penguins Development Camp

Dave Molinari had a little story about Owen Pickering and his articulate nature. Penguins’ sixth-rounder Luke Devlin will have a long media career if his hockey career doesn’t pan out. He naturally joined a convo I was having with Lukas Svejkovsky (I guess he was bored!), and he sensed Pickering was chirping his quarterback play in the prospects’ flag football game.

“Devlin was one of the quartebacks. He wasn’t very good. His field vision was lacking,” Pickering said when we asked who lined up at QB.

Devlin was having none of the Monday morning quarterbacking. The fun starts at about 1:40.

 

2020 second-round pick Joel Blomqvist drew raves from the new director of player development Tom Kostopoulos.

“You guys should get used to talking to him,” said Kostopoulos.

The Finnish goalie went with new all-black pads for camp. They looked pretty good, but I’m not sure he caught my Darth Vader reference. The pads were reminiscent of Emil Larmi’s all-black kit. Blomqvist figures to have more success in the Penguins org than did.

On Sunday, J.D. Forrest was non-committal about Blomqvist’s immediate future. He could play in the AHL, or the Penguins could loan him to his Finnish team.

Perhaps they will see how Filip Lindberg is progressing from his serious ankle injury and decide. The Pittsburgh Penguins goaltending depth is suddenly pretty good. Tokarski will be one netminder.

The guess is that Blomqvist will return to Finland if Lindberg is healthy. Tommy Nappier will go to Wheeling but serve as the third goalie in WBS. But that’s only a guess.

**Penguins UFAs

Danton Heinen and Evan Rodrigues are still unsigned. Dave Molinari looked at Penguins UFAs and why they might be unsigned.

Heinen is a nice scoring option on a deep team. His game doesn’t have enough edge to be a sought-after middle-six winger. However, 18 goals are 18 goals. A team looking to add a few more goals and a bit of depth will come calling.

E-Rod.

Rodrigues is interesting to me. From these eyes, it looked like when Rodrigues felt he was needed, his game hit impressive levels. When he didn’t feel needed, he melted into the background.

I would suggest a rebuilding, or tearing down team, which is trying to be more competitive and has roster spots available, take a good look at him. Or a team that is trying to find cheap offense with a third-line center.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Edgar
Edgar
29 days ago

I don’t feel like the Penguins are any better today. Do you?

Ujn Hunter
29 days ago
Reply to  Edgar

Yes. I do. People are getting healthier and Jan Rutta is a good addition. 4th line players don’t really matter, you aren’t really getting “better” or “worse” there.

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
29 days ago
Reply to  Ujn Hunter

Fourth line players very much matter.

Cal
Cal
29 days ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

Absolutely

Last edited 29 days ago by Cal
Ujn Hunter
29 days ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

Says the forth liner…

Rick Bucko
Rick Bucko
29 days ago
Reply to  Ujn Hunter

We a third line before we start talking about 4th. About a fourth line you definitely need look at the Avs or Tampa Helm and so on very good solid players

Rick Bucko
Rick Bucko
29 days ago
Reply to  Rick Bucko

No I don’t think the Pens are better. Just another year older. Need bigger hungrier men you don’t necessarily need a going just team toughness look at the Avs overall a huge team defense and forwards look at McKinnon he’s a beast.

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
28 days ago
Reply to  Ujn Hunter

I was a pond hockey player. We had nothing but first lines on both sides because that’s all the kids in my neighborhood who played at the time.

maybeTROLLn
maybeTROLLn
28 days ago
Reply to  Ujn Hunter

lmao

David
David
29 days ago
Reply to  Edgar

A little better. But I also don’t think they were as bad as it seemed — the last two first round exits were fully on the goalies. It made it seem like they were in steep decline — but they outplayed both the Islanders and Rangers.

William Maloni
William Maloni
29 days ago

Dan–I’ll ask you, again, from where/who is the promised grit and sand coming?

Tom
Tom
29 days ago
Reply to  William Maloni

87 needs protection…maybe Rutta

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
28 days ago
Reply to  Tom

Rutta is just a big body, not a real tough guy. Deslauriers signed with philly, thats who they should have signed instead of Archibald

maybeTROLLn
maybeTROLLn
28 days ago

Why do they need Deslauriers so badly? Sully didn’t even play Reavo.

maybeTROLLn
maybeTROLLn
28 days ago
Reply to  William Maloni

Yinz obsessed with grit! and sand sucks; it gets everywhere..

trackback

[…] Supply hyperlink […]

Fredrick
Fredrick
28 days ago

We need to move some cap space so we can get better

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh: What ultimately changed Evgeni Malkin’s mind and kept him with the Pittsburgh Penguins? […]

Knobman
Knobman
28 days ago

At this point, why not sign E-Rod as the third line center and move Carter to third RW? I don’t get the feeling that Hextall will make the effort to get anyone better. We need people that can play center for Malkin when he misses half the year again.

trackback

[…] Joel Blomquist And Philipp Lindbergh would be the two goalkeepers who could eventually remove Jerry, although that’s a tall order. Jerry is well above average in most measurable statistics. […]

trackback

[…] Joel Blomqvist and Filip Lindberg can be the 2 goalkeepers who may ultimately change Jarry, though that could be a tough process. Jarry is effectively above common in most measurable stats. […]

trackback

[…] Joel Blomqvist and Filip Lindberg can be the 2 goalkeepers who might finally substitute Jarry, though that may be a tough activity. Jarry is nicely above common in most measurable stats. […]

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