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Thread: Pens have some work to do

      
  1. #1
    Palmetto Steel's Avatar
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    Default Pens have some work to do

    On paper, the Penguins look to be a Cup favorite next year, but they have to address three particular areas this offseason.

    Penguins 2010-11: Maybe they were the team to beat?
    By Rob Rossi, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Friday, April 29, 2011



    The Penguins will gather today at Consol Energy Center for season-ending meetings, and management is already at work on an offseason plan to place the franchise back among the NHL's elite.

    Not a lot of work is required.

    The Penguins awoke on New Year's Day as a top-five squad in scoring, defense and penalty kill.

    They played most of the final 41 regular-season games without franchise centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and good portions of that stretch minus defenseman Brooks Orpik, wingers Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke, and promising rookie Mark Letestu — and still the Penguins were playing at home in a Game 7 of Round 1 in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Of course, they lost, and for a franchise with Cup expectations, not playing deep into May is a disappointment.

    Assuming Crosby and Malkin return healthy and play to form next season — perhaps a big presumption given Crosby didn't play after Jan. 5 because of a concussion and Malkin has been injury-plagued the past two seasons — the Penguins will look, on paper, like a Cup favorite when camp opens in September.

    However, they have three areas, in particular, to address:

    [HIGH-LIGHT]• No. 1:[/HIGH-LIGHT] Hire a power-play coach or coordinator to get the Penguins where they belong, given the talents of Crosby, Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang. The Penguins were fourth at 20.4 percent three years ago and haven't been close since. Management could start by seeking the advice of co-owner Mario Lemieux and franchise friend Paul Coffey, two of the best power-play performers in NHL history.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]• No. 2:[/HIGH-LIGHT] Find a winger for Malkin, whose need for help largely has been ignored since 2008, even though the Penguins have actively sought a long-term fit for Crosby. That fit, presumably, is left wing James Neal, acquired this season. However, the Penguins have two franchise centers. Getting a long-term playmate for Malkin is a must.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]• No. 3:[/HIGH-LIGHT] Upgrade the secondary skill, which aside from Neal — and perhaps center Jordan Staal, whose offensive game has yet to fully develop — doesn't exist. Taking a chance on an aging veteran, even on a two-year deal and even if he isn't an ideal fit, is something to consider instead of waiting until the trade deadline. The Penguins haven't tried that tact since signing Petr Sykora in 2007, but that signing worked for most of his two seasons.

    Those are the Penguins' needs during the offseason. This is what was learned from this past season:

    [HIGH-LIGHT]THE COACH IS LEGIT[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Coach Dan Bylsma's puck-possession system is ideally suited for regular-season success, as was evident by the Penguins' 101 and 106 points the past two years. This Penguins went 24-8-8 in one-goal games this season — third best in the NHL during the regular season — despite playing without Staal, an elite defensive center, for the first 39 games and without Crosby and Malkin for the final 29 contests. Bylsma had to deploy a lineup with four AHL players for nearly a month in the second half, but the Penguins managed 53 points after Jan. 1, when points are traditionally tougher to accrue. Players trusted his teachings, and the payoff was the NHL's third-most points. Bylsma has established himself as a rising star among coaches, not merely a caretaker for a team led by Crosby and Malkin.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]The goalie is back[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Marc-Andre Fleury was a mess after the Penguins' Game 7 loss last spring to Montreal in Round 2. He didn't finish that game at Mellon Arena. Nearly a year later he almost single-handedly finished off Tampa Bay in Game 7. The Penguins' 1-0 loss Wednesday was Fleury's finest performance since Game 7 of the 2009 Cup Final, and it re-established him as arguably the best big-game goalie. It was a fitting — if not satisfying — end to a season during which Fleury started slow (1-6-0), finished fantastic (2.16 goals-against, .925 save percentage over the final 56 starts) and bowed in the full bloom of brilliant saves.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]The development is happening[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Five years into the tenure of general manager Ray Shero, the Penguins' developmental system has started to pay off in the NHL. Letestu and defenseman Ben Lovejoy — both former prospects signed as free agents in 2007 — established themselves as worthy regulars this season. Left wing Eric Tangradi (trade acquisition, 2009) and center Dustin Jeffrey (6th-round pick, 2007) will follow Letestu and Lovejoy next season. Top prospect Simon Despres, the last first-round pick in 2009, looks to have top-four potential and might not be long for the AHL. The pipeline is loaded with defensemen, the NHL's most desired commodity -- giving Shero options to supplement his core of Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury and Letang.

    The Penguins have 17 players under contract for next season at a potential combined $55,412,500 toward the NHL's salary cap, which was $59.4 million this past season. Next year's cap will be announced before free agency begins July 1. Here are the Penguins' impending free agents:

    Alex Kovalev, 38: Scoring winger ($5 million cap hit in 2010-11)
    Pascal Dupuis, 32: Scoring winger ($1.4 million)
    Max Talbot, 27: Role-playing forward ($1.05 million)
    Mike Rupp, 31: Role-playing forward ($825,000)
    Eric Godard, 31: Enforcer ($750,000)
    *Tyler Kennedy, 24: Scoring winger ($725,000)
    Arron Asham, 33: Role-playing winger ($700,000)
    Craig Adams, 34: Role-playing forward ($550,000)
    Chris Conner, 27: Role-playing winger ($550,000)
    *Dustin Jeffrey, 23: Role-playing forward ($509,444)
    Mike Comrie, 30: Scoring winger ($500,000)
    Nick Johnson, 25: Role-playing winger ($500,000)

    Total: 12 players at combined $13,059,444 salary-cap hit.

    *Restricted free agent; the Penguins will have the option of matching any offer received.

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_734545.html
    Last edited by Palmetto Steel; Apr-29-2011 at 06:33 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pens have some work to do

    Obviously the length of contract will be key in many of these signings and with only about $4-5 Million to play with, it's gonna be first come first served.

    IMO....

    [HIGH-LIGHT]#1 priority = sign an enforcer.[/HIGH-LIGHT]
    [HIGH-LIGHT]# 2 = Trade Cooke[/HIGH-LIGHT] (even if it's for draft picks) and resign Asham. Asham does the essentially the same thing for less money. The money saved can be used elsewhere.

    I won't go in depth into trading Staal cause it's never going to happen. But if they could get at least a 1st round pick from a bad western team (like Edmonton)... I'd do it.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]# 3 = sign free agents.[/HIGH-LIGHT] IMO, Talbot, Rupp, Jefferey and Adams get a slight edge because they can play Center. With their history of injury at that position, they'd better be deep. (especially if they trade Staal)

    I'd be for giving Comrie another shot at $500,000. ...Probably Nick Johnson as well.

    Alex Kovalev - gone
    Pascal Dupuis - gone
    Chris Conner - gone
    *Tyler Kennedy- See what offer they need to match. Much more than $725, gone.

    Max Talbot ($1.05 million) - keep at $825,000 or gone
    Mike Rupp ($825,000) - keep at $700,000 or gone
    Craig Adams ($550,000) Keep at similar $$$
    *Dustin Jeffrey ($509,444) - See what offer they need to match.

    Eric Godard, 31: Enforcer ($750,000) Keep at less $$$, If they believe he still can fight as a heavy-weight... which I'm not sure about.

    Arron Asham ($700,000) Keep at similar $$$

    But, I'm not going to lose sleep over any of these guys.
    Last edited by (419)BlackNGold; Apr-29-2011 at 08:47 AM.

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    El Sid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pens have some work to do

    Quote Originally Posted by (419)BlackNGold View Post
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    I'd be for giving Comrie another shot at $500,000. ...Probably Nick Johnson as well.

    Alex Kovalev - gone
    Pascal Dupuis - gone
    Chris Conner - gone
    *Tyler Kennedy- See what offer they need to match. Much more than $725, gone.

    Max Talbot ($1.05 million) - keep at $825,000 or gone
    Mike Rupp ($825,000) - keep at $700,000 or gone
    Craig Adams ($550,000) Keep at similar $$$
    *Dustin Jeffrey ($509,444) - See what offer they need to match.

    Eric Godard, 31: Enforcer ($750,000) Keep at less $$$, If they believe he still can fight as a heavy-weight... which I'm not sure about.

    Arron Asham ($700,000) Keep at similar $$$

    But, I'm not going to lose sleep over any of these guys.
    I agree with you assessment, but I'd make one change. Try to keep TK for a relatively cheap price, and see what offer needs to be matched for Talbot. I love Talbot, and I'll miss him, but I just don't think he seems to have it anymore.

    And I might lose a couple hours of sleep....or my afternoon nap on a rainy day....if we lose Rupp and/or Adams.

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    Default Re: Pens have some work to do

    Quote Originally Posted by El Sid View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    I agree with you assessment, but I'd make one change. Try to keep TK for a relatively cheap price, and see what offer needs to be matched for Talbot. I love Talbot, and I'll miss him, but I just don't think he seems to have it anymore.

    And I might lose a couple hours of sleep....or my afternoon nap on a rainy day....if we lose Rupp and/or Adams.
    I agree with you about TFK. Since he's restricted, the Pens may need to match an offer. Depends what the offer is? But I like his speed (especially if Dupuis is gone) and I like the fact that he's still young.

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    Default Re: Pens have some work to do

    Rupp will be back count on it. Unfortunately that means we wont resign Godard and the team wont have a Super Heavyweight anymore. Which aggrevates me if we keep playing Quilted Northern over Engelland (Lovejoy) I have a feeling Asham will be back because of the playoffs but he might have to take a paycut.

    After that let Talbot walk unless he wants to accept under 1 mill a year, bring back TK. Lock up Jeffrey for a couple years and let him actually play in the NHL.

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    Why is Rupp a shoe in? I thought he was a waste in the regular season. I dont like that the guy is ridiculously big and doesnt use it to his advantage. And why is everyone writing Duper off? Id keep Dupe and TFK myself they give bang for buck. Maybe Id keep Asham for cheap.

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    Default Re: Pens have some work to do

    When did Dupuis become a "scoring winger"?

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