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The Penguins, Tanev, Ferland Contract, Social Media and the Unknown

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Hell hath no fury like a keyboard unheard.

In the parlance of our times, the Twitter machine erupted Wednesday afternoon. First with (mostly) kind words for retiring Pittsburgh Penguins center Matt Cullen. Cullen was a stalwart, a gentleman, and the player who could hold the Penguins stars accountable. He was “Dad,” and at 42-years-old, he retired with a heartfelt message released via Penguins Twitter account.

That was news with positive emotions, so it drifted from view quickly.

Thankfully, something to become outraged over quickly took its place. Since it had been nearly 24 hours since anything worthy of outrage ran across our screens, the world was crying out. Then the Vancouver Canucks inked power forward Michael Ferland to a four-year, $14 million contract.

Yes, it was time to vent!

Ferland got the same average annual value as Bryan Rust and Brandon Tanev, but the Penguins gave Tanev a six-year contract. Both are 27-years-old, but Ferland has scored 41 and 40 points over the past two seasons, respectively. Tanev popped a career-high 29 points last season.

Based on those immediate statistics, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is a doddering fool who should be retired by force and shamed as he walks to his car with a box of his belongings.

In fairness, that’s kind of what Twitter does. I would also make a Game of Thrones walk-of-shame joke, but I shan’t give you any ideas.

Nevermind that Ferland had only five even strength goals in 2019, or just one assist in the Carolina run to the Eastern Conference Final. Ferland played 39 games in the 2019 calendar year and had only 11 points at 5v5.

While Ferland was the scoring sheet’s distant memory by May, Tanev was a fourth line bruiser with the Winnipeg Jets.

Tanev also scored five even strength goals in 2019, but he also potted a shorthander, too. Tanev scored 14 points (6g, 8a) in 40 games. We used Jan. 1 as the starting point to eliminate Ferland’s hot start and because it is generally the half-way point when things get more serious.

So, Tanev outscored Ferland in the second half. Plays a fast, aggressive game and is a penalty killer. Ferland had a great start but was shuffled to the fourth line by the playoffs and had just one assist over three series. Ferland could develop into a consistent power forward capable of top-six duty. Or he might not.

Tanev is a crash-bang shutdown player who still managed to score 14 points playing in a defensive capacity.

Now, the unknown.

Do we know the Penguins did not make contact with Ferland? Did Ferland drop his asking price after he was one of the last free agents left on the market and most teams had already spent their allowance? Do we if the Penguins didn’t look at Ferland’s significant second half drop and decide that Jake Guentzel and Alex Galchenyuk would probably take the top-six ice time instead of Ferland?

The Carolina Hurricanes had plenty of opportunities to re-sign Ferland, who they acquired last summer as part of the Dougie Hamilton blockbuster trade. The team is not flush with offense but declined.

From Jan 1., Tanev and his main center, Adam Lowry, outscored their often top-tier opponents 16-8 at 5v5. I include that stat because it shows the potential of Tanev to face the best lines and win.

But it seems we know the Penguins were wrong because–right now–they are wrong until proven right. A player labeled as a grinder is NOT what fans wanted to add and a player labeled as a power forward is what the Penguins needed.  And the power forward scorer signed for equal money as Tanev and less term.

Have we mentioned Tanev’s 278 hits and speed? His active penalty killing…or his speed? Perhaps Tanev can fill the void which was left open after the departure of Carl Hagelin.

So why is everyone jumping ugly, again?

Forget it, they’re rolling. Twitter on.

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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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