The Pittsburgh Penguins and president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas are coming to the crossroads of their offseason, and Drew O’Connor could be the off-ramp in a game of chicken. We untangled the Penguins’ situation and timeline, which comes to a head in a few weeks. It’s also officially lakehouse season in hockey, so the big guns are on vacation. Still, the Chicago Blackhawks celebrated Connor Bedard’s 18th birthday fittingly, Nike axed Hockey Canada, RFA d-man Evan Bouchard is primed for an offer sheet, and Anton Stralman is not a fan of the life of an NHL player.
I want to thank the six or seven dozen people who answered my Twitter call last night. After a few days in Wellsboro last weekend, I want to find a few more small towns to spend a couple of days. I got some good suggestions and some that didn’t fit me, but I appreciated them all the same. Ohiopyle is too close. Jim Thorpe is too far. A few good restaurants, a diner, and a hotel on the main street are requirements. Hotel price will be my deciding factor (yes, I’m cheap, but that allows me to take more trips)!
Let’s get to it…
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: What is Drew O’Connor worth? And his arbitration case could be the fulcrum of the Penguins’ offseason, including the key to coming Penguins trades.
PHN+: A special Q&A just for subscribers. No holds barred, and I can be a little more blunt since it won’t be for general public consumption. Submit your questions here.
Najee Harris blasted the running back market, “It’s a joke.” The Steelers RB let rip.
Kenny Pickett guaranteed a bounce-back year for Diontae Johnson.
It’s a big deal, though I don’t get it. How Madden 24 ranked the Steelers players.
Pittsburgh Baseball Now:
Yikes, yuck, and what the hell? Quinn Priester’s debut was another ugly loss for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The good news is the plan for the future is coming together. Priester and others are arriving at the major-league level. A new era is dawning for the Pirates roster.
NHL Ness & National Hockey Now:
Chicago Hockey Now: Here is your new contract. Happy 18th birthday, Connor Bedard.
Sportsnet: Nike cut ties with Hockey Canada.
NYI Hockey Now: Oliver Wahlstrom didn’t have a lot of leverage, so he sucked it up and signed his qualifying offer for the New York Islanders.
Buffalo Hockey Now: Their Achillies heel last season was goaltending, but GM Kevyn Adams did not address it. How much rope will the new Buffalo Sabres goalie tandem get?
Boston Hockey Now: I think Anton Stralman is right. He ripped the brutal lifestyle of NHL players. You don’t get family time. There’s not much time for fun. The former Boston Bruins defenseman left for Sweden.
An 82-game schedule with the energy expended and physicality remains so absurd it’s almost laughable to me. Take this not-so-humble reporter’s word. Having covered the season and playoffs through the Stanley Cup Final, then the draft, my summer is less than two months long. How on earth can players go through that year after year? Life becomes hockey.
The Score: Stick tap to Spector’s Hockey for finding this one. Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard is a top-pair guy but an RFA on a team without much cap space. Yes, he’s a prime target for an offer sheet.
Vegas Hockey Now: Motivation Day. How the Vegas Golden Knights can repeat.
San Jose Hockey Now: I suspect this story will not go over well. It would have been received much differently 20 years ago, but fighting’s place in the game has changed. A Sharks prospect said before every game, he was told to fight, who to fight, and was held back because he didn’t. It’s an ugly mark on the San Jose Sharks organization, which denied the claim.