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Penguins Sign Brandon Tanev, News & Analysis



And the keyboards were off and running. At the stroke of noon and the beginning of NHL Free Agency, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed right wing grinder Brandon Tanev to a six-year, $21 million contract which will run through 2025-26.

The move would have been impossible if not for the Phil Kessel trade on Saturday.

Tanev, 27, is a gritty and speedy right winger who will slot into the Penguins bottom six with ease. The former Winnipeg Jets forward had a career year last season. He scored 15 goals with 14 assists for 29 points. He also had a couple of shorthanded goals.

Tanev is not a large player. He’s 6-foot, 180 pounds but he makes an impact. The down line, high-intensity player also made 278 hits while starting 59% of his shifts in the defensive zone.

The term of the deal is the most curious aspect as third and fourth line players do not earn six-year contracts. However, Tanev’s young age and relative lack of wear-and-tear allowed the Penguins to offer an extended deal. Tanev has just 195 NHL games experience.

The scouting book on Tanev is similar to current Penguins winger Bryan Rust. He is an intense player who plays every shift with grit and physicality. Coaches trust him in the defensive zone and he punishes opponents. His speed is an asset as is his tenacity and hockey IQ.

Tanev has significantly increased his production in each of his three NHL seasons. So there is also wonder if he has a yet untapped offensive game.

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Brandon Tanev Analysis:

The Penguins fans and blogosphere were laying in wait. The move provided the Penguins another bottom-six player with speed and, as the hockey folks say, sandpaper. And jam, too.

The six-year contract seems to be the biggest sticking point for social media unrest. Change the angle of thinking and it’s not bad. Would fans complain over a two-year, $7 million deal for a 31-year-old? Not much fuss, right? That’s exactly what Tanev will be. Or imagine a four-year deal worth $14 million for a 29-year old, which is exactly what Bryan Rust received.

It’s not a bad deal. It is interesting the Penguins chose to spend their money on a grinder when their bottom six is full, but clearly one or more players will be elsewhere next season. Dominik Simon and Rust have been duplicated by Dominik Kahun and Tanev.

It’s also not a move which puts the Penguins in a much better position. It’s a solidifying move. Nothing more.

Now, the Penguins have options. The rumors which swirled around the Penguins shopping for a defenseman and dealing one of their defensemen Monday were real. Very real. But, it didn’t come to fruition on Monday.

Going forward, the Penguins have the tools to look for hockey trades to upgrade individual positions. The Penguins have needs. They still need a bit more offense in their top-six, but they should be well set on the suppression side of the game.

If you’re a fantasy hockey player, Matt Murray should have a great season, next year. He will be well protected.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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  1. Darlenepens

    July 1, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    I just don’t get GMJR’s management. Tanev deal is too much $ for too many years. How will the Pens sign their RFA’s or UFA’s?

    Another thing I don’t understand is the hatred for Jack Johnson. Let’s compare a well liked former Pens defenseman to JJ. Brooks Orpik seemed to be a fan fav during his stay here. Here are his career stats. Sixteen seasons, 18 goals, 176 assists. JJ’s stats. Fourteen years, 67 goals, 224 assists. The one stat where there is a difference is plus/minus. Orpik has a decent plus of 79 while JJ is a pretty bad minus of 113, but only a minus 4 last season. If fans don’t like him because of his low goal/assist numbers, take a look at the other defenseman stats. And don’t include Mr. I Only Want To Score and Not Play Solid Defense Letang In this assessment. So please, someone explain the hatred.

    Since nearly every Eastern Conference team has improved their teams, and the Pens really haven’t, I predict no playoffs for the Pens unless can trade a big name (Letang/Malkin) and free up cap space, they’re not going to threaten anyone.

    • Jay95

      July 2, 2019 at 12:16 am

      The difference between Orpik and Johnson is huge. #1, Orpik was never signed to put up points. He was there to cover for the guys that did. After his first season or two he was a hugely effective physical presence who was also intelligent in his zone. Additionally, he was a much better skater and better at holding the blue line than Johnson.

      That said, when Orpik signed with Washington…that was the equivilant of the JJ signing.

  2. Zane Gearhart

    July 1, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    More changes have to be on the horizon. We now have 1.6 million in cap space and still need to sign ZAR, Blueger, and Petterson. The changes have made our bottom line stronger. Secondary scoring should be up this year.

  3. Matt Luda

    July 1, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Gardiner is still available. Would require another move to clear cap room, — Rust for a high draft pick perhaps? — but he’d be a terrific add as an experienced 29-year-old d-man who can skate, move the puck and be spotted on the power play.

  4. Big B

    July 1, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    Dan Carl the Hag haggy scored 5 goals and 19 points last year and was signed by the Caps for 2 years until his 33rd year and everybody cries because they wanted hin back because he was fast and killed penalties and was hard to play against,Tanev is signed til he is 33 and is fast(very fast) and hard to play against and he also hits and never quits.You could say he is too legit to quit.Hag has gone 3 seasons without scoring 14 goals which Tanev did last year. Tanev has a chance for a big year, not Gabby Hayes big but big none the less.

    If GMJR had gotten him for 1 year at the NHL minimum salary the twitter trolls would still be upset and bring it all back to Jack. If GMJR trades Jack today and gives up an asset to do it they will say he wasted an asset and if he gets an asset they will say he still was an idiot to sign him in the first place.If he keeps him they wil scream he should have traded an asset to get rid of him as the Hockey buzz Pens blogger said last week before the draft when he advocated trading the first pick to be rid of Jack.If the Pens win the cup with JJ they will say its just luck and the would have won last year if he was not here. and scream something about Corsi and PDO because the process is more important than the cup.Jonathan Bombulie posted today that Tanev had a better goals per 60 than Kessel at even strenght but i bet they don’t care about that becsuse they don’t respect the things Tanev and Jack bring to the Table and neither should you or i even though the last 3 cup winners won by playing the hittting shot blocking game and i include the Pens in 2017 because they blocked and hit everything and that is not even to mention the two cups the Kings won by pounding their way to the cup and ditto Boston in 2011.

    • Dan Kingerski

      July 1, 2019 at 11:58 pm

      I did RT that tweet. It was just short of epic.

  5. Jay95

    July 2, 2019 at 12:22 am

    For some reason I actually like the makeup of this team. They seem to be able to battle any way they choose. Speed? Yep. Physicality? Yep. Scoring depth? Yep. Superstars? Yep. Goaltending? Yep. Defense? I believe the forwards were more of a problem than the defenders last year Sooooo….yep!

    I’m kinda good with what they have.

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