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Saturday Slapshots: NHL Playoffs, Penguins Goalies & Chances



Tristan Jarry Pittsburgh Penguins

We’re yellow! That’s not a phrase which would earn much happiness in the wild west, but Allegheny County and much of southwestern PA are finally beginning to reopen. Restaurants in West Virginia and Ohio are opening, and we have more news about the hockey return, which may include the Pittsburgh Penguins advancing directly to the NHL playoffs without passing Go.

After more than two months locked in a cage, I’ll take it. And I’ll certainly be making the trek across state borders to have a go at something which feels like civilization again. And I’ll probably scold any oblivious, selfish bystanders who invade my space or fail to adhere to social distancing rules which are still in effect everywhere, including Sweden.

Much was made of Penguins GM Jim Rutherford admitting he would likely have to trade a goalie. The public admission was helpful, but for those of you who follow PHN, you’ve known that was in the works since late February. Our sources have only gotten stronger since we began expansion.

Saturday Slapshots

*Many have asked which goalie will be traded or what the Penguins can get for Matt Murray. The simple answer regarding return is, I don’t know yet. I believed a first round pick was a good starting point, but the NHL June draft proposal may nix that.

Also, we didn’t get the conclusion of the season, yet. Even without the pause, much could change between late February and the Penguins outcome. Now, that’s especially true. The goalies had to show their wares in the big games. If Murray did not perform well in March or the playoffs, his value would tumble. The same would be true for Jarry, just as the opposite would be correct.

Instead, we’re left to wait and see.

I do believe Murray is the more likely to be traded, but I will not be betting heavily on that.

Again, the Penguins are being shoved into a decision one year before they can have a high degree of confidence in their choice, again.

*Marc-Andre Fleury may also be on the trade block. No, I’m not suggesting a Murray-Fleury swap, but I’m waiting for a rumor site to make the connection and for Penguins fans to go wild.

Why do Penguins fans love anonymous rumor sites but insist every legitimately sourced report from legitimate outlets (ahem) come with names, dates, and a pinky swear that it will happen in 15 minutes or its fake news?

*I’m doing a video scouting review of PO Joseph. The early returns are rough. The youngster has some real physical talent, but his game is raw. A couple of periods aren’t enough, and so I’ll be watching several games. I, too, am curious if he could be a solution next season.

*The latest NHL swerve to restart the season is a 24-team playoff format which skips the rest of the regular season. There would be three-game play-in series, too.

I like it. Did anyone need to see Ottawa vs. Detroit at 1 p.m. from Dallas?

Montreal and Chicago making the playoffs isn’t ideal, but nor is excluding the bunch of Eastern Conference teams within a point of the wild-card.

*Many think the Pittsburgh Penguins veteran status would help them. I think the age of their core would hurt them. Yes, the Penguins would be one of the first teams to get back in sync. However, players in their 30s may also have a much harder time getting their wind than players in their 20s.

A few exhibition games before the playoffs will be critical. If teams which have a three-game play-in series face a team which has not yet played, you’re going to see a lot of upsets.

If the Penguins get their rhythm, a Stanley Cup is a real possibility. They have one of the best rosters in the NHL.

*The Pittsburgh Penguins are a 15-1 shot to win. Philadelphia is 8-1.

I wouldn’t touch Philadelphia. They were hot. They were rolling, but that’s hard to recapture. I don’t think they’re that good.

*Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL have not yet “imposed” the June draft on teams. I consider that a good sign that someone pushed back and galvanized support against it. Most teams felt it was a foregone conclusion, and they didn’t really have a say.

Bettman doesn’t need a vote to hold the 2020 NHL Draft in June, but he is at least listening to the opposition, which has valid and critical points.

The June draft should never happen. It was an awful idea to grab a few extra dollars at the expense of the important and vital opportunity for teams to reset their roster.