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Penguins One-Timers: Comparing Contracts, What About Boyle and E-Rod?

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NHL trade, Pittsburgh Penguins, Evan Rodrigues, Bryan Rust

It has been an interesting offseason. The right-handed defenseman expected to set the market just signed a one-year bargain deal with a team not expected to contend for a Stanley Cup. The center expected to set the market is still unsigned 18 days after free agency opened. And the Pittsburgh Penguins locked up both their right-handed defenseman and center to what was expected to be below-market deals but must clear more salary cap space.

The two primary questions before the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall are: How do they clear more cap space, and are they Stanley Cup contenders?

After all, there’d be no reason to sign Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin to long-term 35+ contracts if the Penguins were not Cup contenders.

1. Comparing Penguins Contracts

It’s not truly possible to compare John Klingberg’s one-year, $7 million contract with the Anaheim Ducks to Kris Letang’s six-year, $36.6 million deal. It seems Klingberg didn’t like the teams offering big deals or wanted more than they offered and punted to next season. It doesn’t mean Kris Letang would not have received upwards of $9 million on a shorter deal from another team.

Alex Letang, Kris’s young son who joined his contract press conference at the draft in Montreal, admitted the family had been city shopping.

However, despite Klingberg’s status as the 1 or 1A right-handed defenseman on the market, he’s a small step behind Kris Letang, who routinely finishes in the top-10 of Norris Trophy voting. Klingberg hasn’t registered in Norris voting in the last four seasons.

There are a lot of teams that would have paid Letang $36 million.

It’s much more challenging to compare Evgeni Malkin’s contract. Perhaps Penguins fans and media are too close to the situation to answer objectively. Malkin is one of the great players in the league, but it isn’t easy to know what he was worth. It was a pure guessing game, even if Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman reported that several teams were ready with big offers.

2. Should the Pittsburgh Penguins Carry Only 12 Forwards to Fit Beneath the Cap? 

The Penguins could limbo under the NHL salary cap by carrying only 12 forwards but is that a viable solution?

No.

COVID and week-long COVID absences will probably remain with us for a while longer. As long as that little bug is racing around the planet faster than bad gossip, there exists the possibility that on any given afternoon before a game, one or three players could be out with barely a moment’s notice.

Rolling with only 12 forwards means the perpetual risk of playing with 10 or 11 forwards.

Even as one or two forwards return to the lineup, another one or two could leave. The team could be shorthanded for several games without salary cap space to call up multiple players.

That seems like a perpetual risk not worth taking.

3. Brian Boyle and Evan Rodrigues

Last week, PHN reported (exclusively, I think) that Brian Boyle wants to play this season and that there was at least a little hope or expectation that he could again play in Pittsburgh.

That was before Danton Heinen accepted a $1 million, one-year deal.

The Pittsburgh Penguins no longer have center depth. Last season, they could count six centers in the lineup or available. This coming season, they appear to be at four. Ryan Poehling is a center but didn’t stick in the middle for the Montreal Canadiens. He’s their fifth. Perhaps Josh Archibald is the sixth center?

Brian Boyle had 12 goals on a minimum contract or about three times more goals than Dominik Simon and Zach Aston-Reese scored with the Penguins last season. He was part of the Penguins’ fierce penalty kill that finished top-three in the league. And he’s a large-bodied fourth-line player.

Evan Rodrigues scored 19 goals and was Mike Sullivan’s Swiss Army Knife.

Are Archibald and Poehling suitable replacements?

The answer would seem to be an immediate “no,” but Rodrigues and Boyle weren’t exactly top-priority, go-to players last summer. Boyle arrived on a PTO, and Rodrigues had been a part-time player, a part-time healthy scratch in the prior season.

Perhaps Poehling and Archibald will be just fine, though if either pops for 19 goals, the Penguins could be in a very, very good spot.

But it would appear that Boyle and Rodrigues will not re-sign with the Penguins unless additional forwards are involved in any Penguins trade.

**Lastly, THANK YOU to PHN readers. You pushed us over 1.4 million readers in July. That’s a 40% increase from our previous July and nearly a 30% bump over our previous best in May. Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson have been rockstars on this crazy path. The Steelers and Pirates coverage is coming along very well. This little venture is really sprouting.

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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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Benny
Benny
13 days ago

I don’t think you need to look to Poehling and Archibald to make up the goals of Boyle and Rodrigeus when you have Malkin, Zucker, and Rakell who weren’t there for most of last year, and hopefully a more productive Kapanen.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
13 days ago
Reply to  Benny

I agree with that. A fully recovered Malkin and Zucker along with a rejuvenated Rakell will most likely double that production so long as they find the correct line combos. Not to mention Carter will have a reduced role with no longer having to be the #2 center so his production will also go up. The wild card will be Kapanen, but i am not going to hold my breath for increased scoring from him, but like you, I am optimistic!

Jay95
Jay95
12 days ago

Also in agreement, though I feel like there are two wildcards. 1 would definitely be Kapanen. Although, he’s really not lol. At his floor he’s a 35-40 point player that throws in 15 goals. Last year was atrocious and I don’t think that he’s capable of playing that poorly again lol. Sounds weird, but his skill and mindset…I think he’ll be already a good 3rd liner. The second is Poehling. He has an incredible upside with his speed, size, and skills. His IQ? Who knows because he.was part of a terrible Montreal team. Theoretically he should be in able to… Read more »

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
12 days ago
Reply to  Jay95

They are giving Archibald a shot, no matter what the fans think. Maybe he isn’t the same player he was when he left, so i will give him the benefit of the doubt until he actually plays.

Poehling is another good wildcard pick. When they got him as kind of a throw in i thought, wouldn’t it be cool if it turned out like the Hossa deal with Dupuis being the actual player that exceeds expectations?

Jay95
Jay95
12 days ago

Yeah, and Poehling’s coming in with a much greater pedigree and he’s so much younger than Dupuis. I’m thinking the Pens style will probably fit his attributes. And, even if he only maxes out at being a 10 goal, 20/25 point guy… He was a steal.

As far as Archibald, I don’t mind the player. I actually like what he brings and his skill set. I’m just thinking that at this point he’s your#13 with Heinen back in the picture. So, they may have to throw his 900k salary to the minors and use a 750k #13 for cap reasons.

Andrew
Andrew
11 days ago

Where do you come up up a theory like that? THe reason certain players had break out years was because they received more playing time due to Malkin and others being out because of injury or Covid! Once their time was reduced they did little to nothing. Carter can still skate and play, but he’s never been a very productive player, decreasing his time isn’t going to help his production, if the coaches can figure out a viable third line combo maybe they can have an impact on games. The team was reduced to one scoring line from the midway… Read more »

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
10 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

My point was that having Malkin and Rakell and a healthy Zucker could more than make up the 19 goals and 12 goals Rodrigues and Boyle scored. Carter cooled down as the season went on, some of that could have been decreased playing time and some of it could have been linemates. Personally i prefer him as a 3rd line center. Less minutes and more stamina may equal more production. We will see.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
10 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

Yes, i agree, some commenters are delusional. Its really hard to win in this league. Makes the pens and tampa back to back wins all the more impressive. It doesn’t matter to some people, if you don’t win the cup the whole team sucks and rebuild is needed, right? Lol

Bob
Bob
13 days ago

Can they make up for speed and toughness? No don’t think so..

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
13 days ago
Reply to  Bob

This team is plenty fast enough on the wing. Have you seen them play?

Benny
Benny
13 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Speed? Easily. And I wouldn’t say Boyle and Rody equals toughness..

djr5899
djr5899
13 days ago

It’s still a risk, but I’d continue pushing trying to move Pettersson, even if they have to retain 750K-1M in salary. That allows Rutta to play with Petry, which seems like a good fit. Trading Pettersson and retaining, Penguins could have a 23 man roster, waive Archibald and Caggiula to WBS to start, and still have just under 2M in cap space to strengthen LD at the deadline.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
13 days ago
Reply to  djr5899

No buyout please! At this point they haven’t found a way to move Petterson, so it will be a coup if they find someone to take him off our hands. I feel it will probably be easier to move Ruhwedel because he is right handed and has a better contract. Plus, there is now a logjam at RHD on this team so he is automatically out of the lineup. He has proven that he is a steady defenseman at the NHL level and should be in someone’s lineup.

Last edited 13 days ago by Robert Shoemaker
djr5899
djr5899
12 days ago

Retaining salary in a trade is not a buyout. It’s keeping some of the salary on the Penguins books in order to move the player to another team, whereas buyout is buying out their contract, and spreading it out over twice the length of the term left (6 years in this case with 3 years left). No way do I want a buyout. The problem with moving Ruhwedel is, he’s near league minimum salary…moving him doesn’t really help their cap issues. Trading Pettersson with some small retention could end up allowing them a 23 man roster with 1.9M in cap… Read more »

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
12 days ago
Reply to  djr5899

My bad. Either way, the team honestly cannot afford any dead salary on the books,so not a good idea. You are right about Ruhwedel, they would have to move someone else in addition to him to free up more salary.

Daniele
Daniele
12 days ago

I thought blueger and boyle formed a pretty dominate looking 4th line for the short time they were together last season. If we bring back boyle and move Teddy to wing we could move McGinn, who isn’t bad but at the same time someone we could move for cap space,

Benny
Benny
12 days ago
Reply to  Daniele

Blueger is a top 4th line center in the league you don’t move him to the wing for Boyle who doesn’t have the legs to be a full time center

Travis
Travis
12 days ago

Poelhing l expect will do just fine he was mismanaged in Montreal like alot of there players he was up and down the lineup no structure. I believe with sully system ,it’s not to far of a reach that he gives Carter a run for third line center by mid season, he’s much faster and younger don’t forget he was taken in the first round and he has good hands.

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ric jefferies
ric jefferies
12 days ago

Sometimes its hard to quantify what a player brings to the game. Boyle and Rodrigues both have the ability and have many times changed the tone of a game with their presence and energy on the ice. It wound be a shame to lose them.

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