With one day until free agency hits in full, let’s jump over the boards and look back at a busy week in the offseason life of your back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions.
NHL ENTRY DRAFT
The Pens traded out of the first round last Friday night and acquired St Louis Blues tough guy, Ryan Reaves. The Penguins also received a 2nd round draft pick. Going the other way to the Blues was prospect Oscar Sundqvist and the Pens first round pick.
A lot of reaction hit social media and in a hurry. People were falling over themselves at losing Sundqvist. At the beginning og last season, Sundqvist was on track to be a solid bottom six center for the club. Something happened this year that caused management to sour on him. Given the fact that the Pens are now likely facing the loss of bottom six centers in Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen to free agency and/or retirement, if Sundqvist was who management thought he was….he would still be with the team.
Also trading back twenty spots in a draft that was incredibly weak, by all standards is not that big of a deal. Pittsburgh has had a number of first round prospects no longer here who did blossom elsewhere either. Names such as Kasperi Kapanen, and Angelo Esposito ring a bell anyone?? So let’s all walk away from the statue we built for Sundqvist after this year’s Cup win and get a little perspective.
‘Ryan Reaves is the type of NHL player we should move away from. It why the NHL is the NHL’ Blah, blah, blah.
His seven goals last year were more than the following players on the Pens roster:
Yes, three of those guys are defenseman, but the point is still there. The guy brings a little offense with him, and for a spot on the fourth line with a smaller salary….no one loses in this trade.
The first time he punches the Caps’ Tom Wilson in the face, you will let out a jubilant yell with a fist pump. when he smokes Branon Dubinsky in a corner on a November night in Columbus, you’ll scream ‘$#!#& right!!!’ at your tv while drinking an I.C. Light and eating pierogies, so relax. This is good.
Besides….who doesn’t love a guy who changes his twitter profile to this after being traded….
— Ryan Reaves (@rreaves75) June 25, 2017
As for the other players highlighted in the draft, the first two selections by the Penguins were both defenseman. Zach Lauzon from the Quebec Major Junior League and Clayton Phillips from the USHL. Both lefties and both puck movers to continue in the Penguins mold of what they like.
With two picks in the fifth round the Penguins went to the forward position and selected LW Jan Drozg from Slovenia and C Linus Oland from Sweden before going back to the defensive cupboard and finishing their draft class out by selecting Antti Palojarvi from Finnland and finally Canadian William Reilly with their 7th round pick at #217.
Another Fleury Note:
Just when you thought it would be safe to start the healing process from Marc Andre Fleury….this happened….
Wednesday marked the beginning of the Pens annual Prospect Camp at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex up in Cranberry. The camp concludes on Saturday, July 1st with the annual scrimmage. Most eyes this year are on Daniel Sprong ( a long time favorite of this writer) and Zach Aston-Reese a Collage free agent signing who, along with Sprong, have a legit chance to break in to Pittsburgh’s lineup this coming year.
He Came In Like A Wrecking Ball
Mark Recchi was selected to go into the NHL Hall of Fame on Monday. Recchi, who won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins on top of one more a piece with Carolina and Boston, finished a 22 year playing career sitting at 12th on the all time leading scorer’s list.
Recchi is the 16th member of the Pens organization to enter the Hall. He finished his Pittsburgh career with 385 points in 389 career games. The seven time all-star is currently the Pens’ director of player development.
Mark Recchi, Hall-of-Famer. pic.twitter.com/Bt7yZmAHDm
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 26, 2017
A Bet Paid in Full
Matt Murray received payment for a bet with Country singer Dierks Bently for the Stanley Cup Finals victory. Bently, a Nashville fan, played a concert in Pittsburgh last Saturday while wearing his newly acquired, autographed Murray jersey. Proof below….
— WookieY108 (@WookieY108) June 25, 2017
Unfortunately for Mr. Bently if you play his Country songs backwards, you cannot get the Finals series…..or his choice in skinny jeans, back. It’s all his fault, anyways.
So now with tomorrow’s free agent frenzy about to let loose, we pick up on information that we have known for a while…..this team is going to look a lot different next year. Trevor Daley is rumored to be on his way to either Dallas or Boston. Nick Bonino has surely priced himself out of town to a team that will mistakenly use him as a second line center whilst overpaying him. Rumors of 4 or 5 million per year and destinations such as Nashville, Columbus, and Montreal have been mentioned. Cullen who may or may not retire, has been gauging interest from his home in Minnesota, also Buffalo and of course the Penguins still remain a target too.
Chris Kunitz is also available and you can bet his four Cup rings look attractive to a team looking for veteran leadership and grit.
The Penguins remain in close contact with Justin Schultz and Conor Sheary, both of whom they are trying to lock up long-term.
The often rumored Matt Duchene trade from Colorado again made the rounds, but until the asking price comes down (think, Maatta, Sprong and draft picks) it will not happen.
Mike Fisher’s name has been linked to the Pens as well. Maybe we could all forgive his more well-known wife, Carrie Underwood for her Finals transgressions if this signing were to happen. It would also be a hole that was filled in the bottom six that seems likely to be opened. Another option in that mold is Domenic Moore, the former Pen is available and would be a great fit for the role, and is also a valuable member of the penalty kill.
The penguins will need to take a look at defense above all. with the apparent impending loss of Daley, a second or third pairing player needs to be signed. While management is selling us that oft-troubled Derrick Poliout is really ready this time, the Pens will be looking a tad thin. also take into account the Kris Letang recovery from neck surgery, and next year could be a challenge at the blue line to start the season, at least.
Also, with the club all but announcing that Tristan Jarry will be kept in WB/S next year, the Pens also should shop the market for a veteran back up in net. an ideal target in Mike Condon went away this week, when he re-upped with Ottawa.
The Penguins have some interesting decisions and very important decisions coming over the next bit of time. One point to be made is that, if you infuse this already loaded club with new pieces, and correct one…..it will offset the players who left in terms of how many games they have played. Players leaving the Pens have played a TON of hockey in the last two years. An infusion of new players may counter act that problem deep in to next year.
I’ll be back this time next week with a recap of all Penguin’s news and activities. Stay tuned to the Sports Castle Twitter account for breaking news.
As always, thanks for reading