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2021 NHL Expansion Draft

Kingerski: Did Penguins Outthink Themselves? Hole is Deeper after Expansion Draft

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Jared McCann Pittsburgh Penguins Video Still

The Pittsburgh Penguins were guaranteed to lose one player via the 2021 Seattle Kraken expansion draft. No matter how wickedly any GM spun the chessboard, one player was headed out, except the Pittsburgh Penguins are one of a few teams to lose two NHL players.

And therein lies the problem.

After sitting through a cringe-worthy ESPN debut, the thought was inescapable. The money saved did not equal the players the Penguins lost, Brandon Tanev and Jared McCann.

Penguins GM Ron Hextall had two holes to fill before the NHL expansion draft: a bottom-six RW and a right-side defenseman. After the draft, there was inevitably going to be a third open lineup spot, but with McCann traded away and Tanev lost to expansion, there are now four open spots.

But instead of clearing one of their biggest salaries that could free adequate resources, the Penguins lost a pair of wingers with unique skillsets when Hextall traded McCann to Toronto for prospect Filip Hallander and a seventh-rounder to avoid losing him to Seattle, then actually lost winger Brandon Tanev to Seattle.

Two players out, but there’s not enough money to replace them and patch the holes.

Now, I’ve been around this game long enough not to say outright Hextall made a mistake or that he outthought himself. I’ve done that in the past only to watch a GM execute a two-rail bank shot and escape the predicament.

In the words of Billy Crystal, “he’s only mostly dead!” (Princess Bride reference. You do not happen to have six fingers on your right hand?)

Would the Pittsburgh Penguins have been better off keeping McCann and exposing both him and Tanev, thus losing only one? Filip Hallander had better be as good as some of my colleagues hope. PHN places him as the Penguins’ fourth, maybe fifth-best prospect.

Worse, the McCann replacement cost for a LW/C combo who can score 20 goals is well more than McCann’s $2.94 million salary.

Combined, perhaps the Penguins can find savings on Tanev’s $3.5 million AAV to augment the need for a middle-six winger and fourth liner, but now they need two middle-sixers and a fourth-liner. However, they cleared only $6.5 million between McCann and Tanev.

It’s too early to say if Hextall outthought himself and sacrificed too much…

Penguins Replacement Costs

What does a 25-year-old, 20-goal scorer cost on the open market? Using the rough formula of every 10 points earns $1 million, McCann’s replacement cost for 2021-22 is somewhere around $4 million. That is a $1 million expense compared to savings.

A fourth-line center with anything resembling Tanev’s energy and physicality is probably $2 million. Replacing him for less might be inconceivable. Perhaps depth forward Sam Lafferty or Anthony Angelo can fill the role on a short-term basis, but that will be a significant step down for a line that often draws the unenviable task of guarding opponent’s top lines.

That’s not a job for newbies, greenhorns, or borderline NHL players. That role is for an NHL player with high-end defensive chops, and the Penguins’ “fourth” line is one of the primary reasons they were among the league leaders in goal-differential (+40, fifth overall).

Perhaps a CMU grad with supercomputers can tell me exactly how many wins the Penguins fourth line provided, but a dynamic fourth line makes a huge difference. Ask the New York Islanders.

So, we can surmise the replacement cost for Tanev and McCann is between $5 million and $6 million, which places the Penguins “savings” somewhere near $1 million–and that’s IF Hextall finds players who fit as well.

Sure, McCann was a goose egg in the playoffs. Maybe that trend would have continued. Maybe it would not. Marian Hossa surely struggled in the playoffs for many years before he found the secret to scoring beyond Game 82.

But getting to the playoffs was easier with McCann’s versatility to play a sniping winger or responsible center.

One trade could rescue the Penguins, though their hole is deeper than it was a week ago.

It’s too early to say if Hextall outsmarted himself. But it’s not inconceivable.

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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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Mark Queer
Mark Queer
10 days ago

How about a trade sending Zucker to Seattle for McCann? Hell, throw in Petterson as a bonus. You got POJ waiting in the wings! May have been his plan all along

jackw
jackw
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark Queer

I had the same thought but then – thinking a bit more – figured that it was a slightly less dramatic “trade us McDavid for our worst players” kind of transaction.

I’d take it in a heartbeat, but doesn’t seem likely.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark Queer

If they wanted zucker they could have just taken him straight up in the expansion draft. Why trade away a younger player to get him instead?

Dave H
Dave H
10 days ago

Now the Pens have no one to be physical. Forget the speed & guts Tanev had, this is nothing short of a disaster!!! Out foxed again!

Kris Francis Peterinelli
Kris Francis Peterinelli
10 days ago
Reply to  Dave H

Yeah that Tanev was key to our play-off success the last two years right? I loved the guy but if we just keep doing what we’ve been doing….. well you know what that is the definition of. You have a new GM and you need to let this set in that we are going in a different direction. No more GMJR so this is NOT going to look like it did. If we get past the first round this coming season then that is a major upgrade over the past three years is it not.

TartanBill
TartanBill
10 days ago
Reply to  Dave H

Tanev is physical and fast, but not very big. I’d be concerned about his durability as he moves into his 30s with 4 years remaining on that contract. Seattle has plenty of cap space for an overpay, the Pens do not. In fact, Seattle might be the only team that was willing to take Tanev without demanding additional assets or returning a similar problem contract. That’s not a knock on Tanev, but FA contracts are already priced at max value. Unless something changed or there is a short term need (playoff push injury fill in) that contract should not bring… Read more »

William Maloni
William Maloni
10 days ago

From a fan’s perspective–who truly enjoys your analytical work–you disappointed when you got on the “Pettersson train” in the face of the overwhelming appeal of Tanev.

You have to wear that shirt for a while.

They’ll try and trade Pettersson and, maybe, ZAR because, without Tanev, the third line is “less than.”

The team still has a huge need for some grit and muscle.

TartanBill
TartanBill
10 days ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

Yes, Francis avoided big contracts so as to weaponize cap space. GMRH made Tanev attractive by surrounding him with even higher priced options.

Kris Francis Peterinelli
Kris Francis Peterinelli
10 days ago
Reply to  William Maloni

I don’t know about that. Although he couldn’t find the net, is Lafferty another Tanev without the goofy eyeballs and long hair? Fast and willing to check. Is that the definition of Tanev? Not saying Lafferty is Tanev per se, but we need some coin to fill other needs.

DaGama
DaGama
9 days ago

I’ve wondered that, too.

Trey
Trey
10 days ago

If Burke and Hextall want to add a big physical winger that can maybe engage in a fight once in a while then I understand not needing tanev around. Honestly he does all the things you’d want your fourth line energy plug to do except actually stick up for anyone and drop the gloves, and you don’t really need 2 of those guys. But I’m still having a hard time understanding why that meant having to lose McCann as well. Hextall went from saying “we expect to lose a good player” to “let’s lose 2 good players so that Toronto… Read more »

Ether
Ether
10 days ago
Reply to  Trey

Agree. Maple Leafs lose a prospect and a pick that might fetch a Zamboni driver. Guins lose two guys I really enjoyed watching in Turbo and McCannon. Lucky for me I live in the Northwest and have two more reasons to cheer for the Kraken. So in the expansion drafts we’ve lost 3 quality players and multiple draft picks and gained a prospect and a that has yet to play in North America (and a Zamboni Driver). Did I get that about right. As for MP, Dan that was just shameful wishful thinking!

Kris Francis Peterinelli
Kris Francis Peterinelli
10 days ago
Reply to  Ether

Good luck and enjoy the Kraken.

Kris Francis Peterinelli
Kris Francis Peterinelli
10 days ago
Reply to  Trey

We don’t need a legit top six winger. We have plenty. We have seven guys on the roster who can play top six positions right now. McCann was streaky at best and completely invisible come crunch time of playoffs. Look in 16 and 17 what was the talk of the difference in the team? Wasn’t it the Wilkes Barre guys coming hungry and contributing. Maybe that’s what needs beefed up. Poulin, Legare and now Hallander all come with some size. Let’s see how this plays out.

Scott Artis
Scott Artis
10 days ago

I think you may be right Dan, they may have out thought theirselves.

I can’t decipher GMRH strategy, obviously he knows more than I, but we lost two players instead of one and really didn’t open up a lot of cap room.

Just my opinion, love the coverage, Dan, best hockey coverage out there!

Thanks

Kris Francis Peterinelli
Kris Francis Peterinelli
10 days ago
Reply to  Scott Artis

We gained what is now our most talented prospect in the system for a streaky goal scorer who disappeared EVERY playoff season. That’s a win for me.

Brandon O
Brandon O
10 days ago

They were rumored to be in on Kassian and Hyman. It’s possible they have a deal in place for either or both. That would explain the need for 7 mil in cap space. Maybe a trade to send out Zucker is in the works as well. If they do end up with Hyman at 5+, does the mccann trade still look bad?

Jacob Purvis
Jacob Purvis
10 days ago

I think people overlook Evan Rodriguez. The guy has some scoring touch and some grit to his game. He’s not Tanev but I think he can be a solid bottom six player and he has some versatility to play center or wing.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
10 days ago
Reply to  Jacob Purvis

Re sign him to play on the 4th line. He has the speed but isn’t as hard to play against. Not many are as tough as tanev. That is not replaceable

MIke F
MIke F
10 days ago

Unless they have a massive trade or free agent signings planned, this offseason is a debacle. Pens are a slower, less physical team. They had one physical player with respectable scoring stats and a fair salary, and they exposed him to an expansion team. WTF? It was goaltending that lost the Islanders series. Nothing else. And Hextall, a former star goalie in the league, seems content with a goalie who can’t handle the puck and thinks he’s on the team to set up forwards with unwise, errant passes that lose games and injure his teammates.

Kris Francis Peterinelli
Kris Francis Peterinelli
10 days ago
Reply to  MIke F

Wow, really. The meat of the offseason has not even started yet and the offseason is a debacle? Wow. Mike, chill dude LOTS more moves coming. Be patient.

Chris R
Chris R
10 days ago

Unless Hextall’s going to pull a rabbit out of a hat, this could spell trouble. Maybe he did think the Kraken were going to take a bigger contract off Pittsburgh’s hands, like Zucker or Pettersson, though it’s no secret they want to leave cap space for future maneuverability. It’s going to take some real finagling to fill those gaps in the lineup, and they’ll be up against stiff competition as almost every other GM will be doing the same. The Pens are also likely to lose Cody Ceci to free agency (was his upswing due to the overall chemistry of… Read more »

Kris Francis Peterinelli
Kris Francis Peterinelli
10 days ago
Reply to  Chris R

Tanev versus Pettersson was about $500K difference. All those guys you mention are part of a team that lost to the New York Islanders and got bounced in the first round again. But wait, I know, this was ALL Jarry’s fault, otherwise the group as constructed was poised to win the cup right?

Chase Ranson
Chase Ranson
10 days ago

This sucks Pens window is shut anyway maybe they get a goalkeeper and can at least be respectable next year not a playoff team certainly not winning the division again still a soft small team overall Tanev is a non factor thankful they kept Carter doubtful anyone wanted him anyway

John
John
10 days ago

I have a strong feeling Hextall is quietly working and has more moves coming…Zucker, Pettersson, Jarry, possibly more etc…Make room for new goalie, new physical LW/RW, and in time possibly some of the kids like, Poulin, POJ, Legare, Hallander. Remember, when Hextall acquired Carter, no one saw it coming.

William Maloni
William Maloni
10 days ago
Reply to  John

He needs to do that to regain “Pittsburgh fan cred,” because he’s lost a lot with the losses of Tanev and McCann.

DL
DL
10 days ago
Reply to  William Maloni

Yea because that’s what Hextall is looking to do, regain “Pittsburgh fan cred,” after losing two bottom 6 guys who’ve won absolutely nothing in the NHL. Lets hope he gets working on that immediately!!!!

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
10 days ago

I like Tanev, less so McCann, but they won’t be contending for a Cup this coming season even if they held on to both. Creating cap space is critical for Hextall going into the next off season. These two moves are just the start.

Ken Colligan
10 days ago

People keep talking about cap space that was created. It is a fallacy. Once Zar and a number 6 Right D are signed at least 4 mill go away. Once roster is filled out there is 1.5 mill left for a third line right wing. Good luck finding value there. Still waiting to see what direction new management team is taking this team.

Uros
Uros
10 days ago

Abandon ship! Save yourselves! Hextall is an evil wizard sent from a far away land called Philadelphia to destroy us! He’ll give everyone away for nothing! Nah, just sit back, enjoy the ride and tell me how it was when all is said and done. For crying out loud Martin costs $1.5 million. There will be 4th liners available and if not, which I find hard to believe, I’d give Sam a chance. He has speed and physicality and more games under his belt. He might surprise us all. As for replacing Jared I’m sure we’ll get better there with… Read more »

Ken Colligan
10 days ago
Reply to  Uros

Matheson is a perfectly fine contract for a quality second pair D . He actually had a fine year. Hornqvist was an expensive third liner. Neither Malkin or Crosby would play with him.

Uros
Uros
10 days ago
Reply to  Ken Colligan

$4.875mil for another 4 years for a D looking to bounce back? Yes, he had a good year, but that’s because the expectations were very low. He’ll need to do more to be called quality second pair D. As for the part about Crosby and Malkin not wanting to play with Hornqvist, I’ll take your word on that.

ThePenguin71
ThePenguin71
10 days ago

You can bet that another big contract is on the way out the door. Zucker or Petterson will be the next to go. I liked watching Tanev and McCann but they aren’t the sort of role players who win Cups right now. If the goal is to win the Cup, then some painful changes need to be made. The mentality of patching holes for this year is how the Pens keep losing in the first round. Keep Tanev and McCann – lose in the first round. Ditch Tanev and McCann- still could lose in the first round.

crazyhorse87
crazyhorse87
10 days ago

Matheson to Edmonton for Puljujarvi, Edmonton has to give something to get something. They need to replace Larsson, hopefully the Pens. can find a way to keep Ceci.

TartanBill
TartanBill
10 days ago
Reply to  crazyhorse87

Cece makes the most sense paired with Matheson. Either Math or Peterson might not be enough, but take Neal with 50% retained? I wouldn’t touch Neal otherwise, but packaged with Puljujarvi might make it happen.

Katz
Katz
10 days ago

Finally ,….. a pin hole in the hopium bubble. Yes this new team mismanaged the expansion draft , their protected list was too cute by half and now the roster is even more watered down. Tanev offered at least the fear to opposition PP and his speed and vigor make him a rare ingredient. He will be missed , and not nearly as easy to replace as a ZAR would have been. Carter should have been exposed for obvious reasons. Anywho I’m predicting this team misses the playoffs . I’m also predicting this is Sullivan’s last season in Pgh and… Read more »

trackback

[…] Did the Pittsburgh Penguins screw up over the expansion process? Dan Kingerski thinks so (Pittsburgh Hockey Now) […]

trackback

[…] The Pittsburgh Penguins were guaranteed to lose one player via the 2021 Seattle Kraken expansion draft. No matter how wickedly any GM spun the chessboard, one player was headed out, except the Pittsburgh Penguins are one of a few teams to lose two NHL players. And therein lies the problem. After sitting through a cringe-worthy ESPN debut, the thought was inescapable. The money saved did not equal the players the Penguins lost, Brandon Tanev and Jared McCann. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now) […]

David
David
10 days ago

The Vegas expansion draft was the Pens first step into the coming mediocrity, and this Seattle draft is the second. Stay tuned.

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
10 days ago
Reply to  David

The life cycle of team sports. No team stays on top forever and the downtown is used to rebuild.

David
David
10 days ago

ESPN’s broadcast last night was downright embarrassing.

Web1350
10 days ago
Reply to  David

Exactly! What a low-budget, goofy failed attempt to make this clown show interesting and relevant. Using people who most of us never heard of or who know anything about the game was a joke. Let’s hope ESPN’s coverage in the future is better or the sport will lose more people’s interest.

Kris Francis Peterinelli
Kris Francis Peterinelli
10 days ago

Completely disagree with your assessment. The team needs changes to meet the playoff format and structure. McCann brought nothing to the table in the playoffs the last two years. We don’t need more scorers, we need sandpaper. I guess since we got knocked out in the first round and that was so long ago you guys have forgotten this. We have seven quality scoring guys and two thirds of a shut down line. What we need is a big heavy line so we stop getting pushed around. Oh and that trade, yeah we got a guy who rates MUCH higher… Read more »

Icee
Icee
9 days ago

What the hell has Crosby done in the playoffs the last few years? Next to nothing. And I think more is expected of him than of McCann? But no one ever calls our “leader” out. The guy mostly coasts around constantly looking to pass the puck as soon as he gets it. But I guess he has to pass it immediately since he is barely moving every time he gets the puck. The only thing he works hard at is board battles and the occasional back check. Until Sid decides to put out a consistent effort, everything else regarding this… Read more »

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
10 days ago

THE SKY IS FALLING! The Mccann trade happened for a reason. You have to give up something to make that happen. Have faith. I see them both as cap casualties. Zucker and Pettersson aren’t worth as much as people think. How else were they going to get cap space?

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
10 days ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

Yet to be determined.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
9 days ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

That is true, they would be lucky to break even on the free agent market. I sense a trade…

TartanBill
TartanBill
10 days ago

You are thinking about this all wrong. GMRH wanted rid of Tanev’s contract. You pegged it as a slight overpay, but for a 3/4 line tweener with 4 years remaining it was a significant overpay on a cap squeezed team. Now I would have exposed Blueger and protected McCann. But assume as follows: 1) Hexxy preferred to protect Blueger, 2) McCann was going to be the player lost, and 3) overpriced players (Tanev, Zucker) are unmovable without giving up additional assets, 4) Francis takes younger cost controlled players over older higher contracts (see draft results) Hextall lost McCann as expected… Read more »

trackback

[…] One of Washington’s division rivals didn’t make it out of the expansion draft completely unscathed, as Pittsburgh could be in a bigger hole than before. Dan Kingerski discusses the state of the Penguins and if they outthought themselves in regards to the Kraken. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now) […]

Frank
Frank
10 days ago

Is there a fan base anywhere given to extreme knee jerk reactions to player movements than Penguin fans? It is hard not to like Tanev and I am sorry he is gone, but even given his tenacity he is part of the “small” problem. And while he plays “big” he is easily neutralized by players with similar tenacity but weighing 30 pounds more and measuring in at 6″ taller. Eventually he ends up in the press box recovering from some physical contact with one of those guys. And McCann . .. guys . . . he has some upside for… Read more »

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
10 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Pens fan base is no different than any other. Each is subject to such reactions. We just don’t read about them because we aren’t in their cities.

jackw
jackw
10 days ago

I liked watching Tanev, and I liked watching McCann. But are these losses devastating, or staggering? No. Some of the fans whining here have called for sending away future hall of famers and top pairing defensemen in order to “save cap space” and get back some imaginary replacement who would bring a different element to the team. And somehow Tanev and McCann are irreplaceable? Get serious. Are you looking for a Cup? If you think that what Carter brought last season or what Blueger can bring vs either one of those two you’re kidding yourself. If you think that the… Read more »

trackback

[…] Kingerski: Did Penguins Outthink Themselves? Hole is Deeper after Expansion Draft […]

trackback
10 days ago

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s Dan Kingerski assesses whether the Pens made a similar mistake when they traded Jared McCann to Toronton to avoid losing him the expansion draft. Now, McCann is gone, plus the Kraken drafted Brandon Tanev from Pittsburgh. The $6.5 million cleared in cap space isn’t enough to replace those players. Did the Penguins outthink themselves? […]

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
10 days ago

No.

Timm
Timm
10 days ago

The bonehead move was protecting Carter over Tanev. Carter has shined as a Penguin, but he’s a few years from retiring! There’s almost 0% chance the Kraken would have taken a geezer (in NHL years). They wasted a protected spot on him. And now we lost a unicorn of a player in Tanev. McCann’s offensive prowess is replaceable. But Tanev is unique; the kind of player whose contributions go way beyond any stat sheet. The biggest vacancies he leaves are the physicality, special teams, and the obvious chemistry with Blueger/ZAR. That kind of chemistry is priceless in my opinion, and… Read more »

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins traded Jared McCann to Toronto to avoid losing him. Then lost Brandon Tanev. The nearly $6.5 million saved won’t be enough to replace them, nor will it be enough to also address other needs. Did the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall outthink themselves? […]

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins traded Jared McCann to Toronto to keep away from dropping him. Then misplaced Brandon Tanev. The almost $6.5 million saved received’t be sufficient to exchange them, nor will or not it’s sufficient to additionally deal with different wants. Did the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall outthink themselves? […]

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins traded Jared McCann to Toronto to avoid losing him. Then lost Brandon Tanev. The nearly $6.5 million saved won’t be enough to replace them, nor will it be enough to also address other needs. Did the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall outthink themselves? […]

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins traded Jared McCann to Toronto to avoid losing him. Then lost Brandon Tanev. The nearly $6.5 million saved won’t be enough to replace them, nor will it be enough to also address other needs. Did the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall outthink themselves? […]

Web1350
10 days ago

Ron Francis said they were going to spend to the cap. What? There is no way with that group he will even come close. I follow hockey pretty closely and never heard of many of those players and others, maybe once or twice. With that in mind, I’m thinking he has some trades in mind or already negotiated to get near the cap. Otherwise, they’re a last place team. Maybe GMRH can swing a deal with Francis for Kurtis MacDermid. He would be a perfect answer to Tom Wilson.

Michael L Hecht
Michael L Hecht
10 days ago

Wasn’t the move to make a deal with Krackens to have them draft Price and then trade him to Pens? Goalee clearly biggest need for Pens.

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins traded Jared McCann to Toronto to avoid losing him. Then lost Brandon Tanev. The nearly $6.5 million saved won’t be enough to replace them, nor will it be enough to also address other needs. Did the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall outthink themselves? […]

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins traded Jared McCann to Toronto to avoid losing him. Then lost Brandon Tanev. The nearly $6.5 million saved won’t be enough to replace them, nor will it be enough to also address other needs. Did the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall outthink themselves? […]

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins traded Jared McCann to Toronto to avoid losing him. Then lost Brandon Tanev. The nearly $6.5 million saved won’t be enough to replace them, nor will it be enough to also address other needs. Did the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall outthink themselves? […]

trackback

[…] — Pittsburgh traded Jared McCann to avoid losing him and then lost Brandon Tanev. Did the Pens overthink things? (PHN) […]

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins traded Jared McCann to Toronto to avoid losing him. Then lost Brandon Tanev. The nearly $6.5 million saved won’t be enough to replace them, nor will it be enough to also address other needs. Did the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall outthink themselves? […]

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins traded Jared McCann to Toronto to avoid losing him. Then lost Brandon Tanev. The nearly $6.5 million saved won’t be enough to replace them, nor will it be enough to also address other needs. Did the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall outthink themselves? […]

trackback

[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins traded Jared McCann to Toronto to avoid losing him. Then lost Brandon Tanev. The nearly $6.5 million saved won’t be enough to replace them, nor will it be enough to also address other needs. Did the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall outthink themselves? […]

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