Thursday, June 21, 2012

Approaching NHL free agency on July 1: What we're talking about

By Artistry

It's June 21st, and our hockey-sense is tingling.  For weeks, it laid dormant, but all it took was two puzzling Nickelback performances and some brutal Pierre Maguire/Eddie Olzyck repartee to wake GTOG out of its slumber.  There is just no going back to sleep after that ordeal.

So cheppy.
A draft weekend preview podcast is on the agenda for tonight, and after the jump a few of the items we're talking about over G-chat while we should be working...

1) Geno

Nothing like seeing the big guy lumber awkwardly through a Ted Lindsay Award speech, then nail the emotional Hart Trophy tribute to Sergei Gonchar. The surprise here was not that Malkin won the Hart going away, not that he cracked people up and charmed the room, but that he won the Lindsay Award that goes to the player most respected by his peers.  Because you don't need to watch many Penguins games to realize Malkin gets under the opposition's skin.  A lot of players think he's dirty, and at least one coach thinks he whines.  He's not winning any popularity contests out there.  But he was just too good for the other players to let any in-game hostilities get in the way of the popular vote.  And off the ice, come on, what a personality.

Exhibit A as to why Twitter is often unbearable:  Geno Malkin states that taking home the Hart, Lindsay, and Art Ross Trophies culminated the best day of his life.  Next thing you know, Twitter explodes with people condemning other people who we don't follow on Twitter who are saying, in essence, "Geno, what about winning the Stanley Cup, huh, what about that?  That's not the best day of your life?  How could that not be the best day of your life?  Are you even a human being?  How can you even look at yourself in the mirror right now?  You have disgraced your city, and really all of human civilization."  And then people on Twitter take great umbrage with the Geno critics, and go on and on AND ON about how it's no big deal that Geno made this statement, there is a language barrier, and it's all really very innocuous, and no one should take offense.  When did it become imperative for everyone to respond to everyone about everything?  We don't know, and, please be assured, we don't care. UNSUBSCRIBE.

2) Jordan Staal

Lots more to come on the podcast, but the latest is that hockey scribe Andy Strickland reports Staal has told Ray Shero he will NOT re-sign with the team and will leave as an unrestricted free agent next summer.  This may be true.  This may be untrue.  Also, this may be true, but things could change.  Our feelings on it won't change:  the Pens should make a run this season with Jordan Staal.  Unless Shero is blown away by an offer - and we're talking an offer that gives us a suitable replacement at center, a significant upgrade at another position, AND a stellar prospect - you don't trade the guy who makes the Penguins the most difficult match-up in hockey.  You make your run now, and then let the chips fall.

3) Paul Martin

Nice work by the Trib's Josh Yohe on Wednesday to get the scoop on Martin's concussion, his recognition that he was terrible this year, and his desire to stay in Pittsburgh.  We feel bad for the Prime Minister.  We loved what he brought when Shero signed him two summers ago, and we defended him at length on several occasions.  But concussion or no concussion, we've seen a steady decline in his performance that does not warrant another chance at redemption.  If you're a $5 million defenseman who can't get comfortable after two full years in Dan Bylsma's system, you're not a $5 million defenseman.  We wish him the best, but we'll take a draft pick and cap space for him and move on.  Time for a reboot.

Podcast tonight.  See you there.


  1. I don't envy Shero for the decisions he has to make. I get where you are coming from, but I'm less certain that holding on to him is necessarily the right decision.

    If he won't sign a 10 year deal, he doesn't want to stay. And you can't lose him for nothing. I don't trade him without the right deal - but I could imagine JS netting 3-4 assets from a team in need of a center. Maybe Shero can wrangle Bobby Ryan from Anaheim, along with a couple of prospects - or Brandon Sutter from Carolina, along with a player and multiple prospects.

    I know people are obsessed with the 3-center model, but this team lacks balance. The 3 center model worked when the likes of Geno, Staal, Tanger were on their baby contracts. We had our big three healthy 2 of the the last 3 playoffs and got - nowhere.

    With the salary cap, you win by getting production from young, talented guys making $800,000. The Pens only have Despres close to coming up. The Pens desperately need better prospects than they have, and you'd get them by trading Staal.

    I guess the bottom line is that I don't buy the whole "window" argument. Sure, the window is closing for this core - as evidenced by J. Staal's impending departure in the next year. But no team with two Hart winners and guy who will win the Norris in the next couple years has a "closed window." BS.

    You lose J. Staal for nothing, you set the franchise back years, because no one is waiting in the wings to step up. You'd need to pay millions on a multi-year deal for a FA 3rd line center. You retool the team with a trade, I see no reason why the Pens aren't perennial contenders behind Sid, Geno, Tanger, and Neal. People REALLY want Staal - and regardless of what he said about resigning, GMs will give a good deal to get him.

    1. I question whether the return on a Staal trade will restock our system in any meaningful way. The news on Staal's rejection of a 10-year offer broke after we posted this, but it really handicaps Shero. He needs to get a legitimate replacement for Staal and top young talent for a trade to make sense, and who is going to give us that now, with no guarantee that Staal will resign anywhere but Carolina? You think the Canes will part with Brandon Sutter and Justin Faulk? Why? They've got the Pens over a barrel. I take your point about the window, to a degree. I just don't think the window is likely to get wider than it is right now, with Jordan Staal.

      I also think it's unlikely that the repercussions of letting him walk next summer are as severe as you say. I'm about to go all Ron Cook on you: Sid, Geno, Tanger, and Neal, remember?

      More discussion on the pod tonight.

    2. I do take your point, and I don't think they'll get both Sutter and Faulk under these circumstances. But I think you are forgetting the business of it as well. If the Canes get J. Staal now, the playoffs are a legitimate probability in a weak East. If they don't, they likely end up where they were this past year. Making the playoffs this coming year is millions of dollars for a struggling franchise - one everyone seems to expect to take on another really big contract. That might be enough to get a reasonable if not amazing offer from the Canes. And if they won't make a reasonable offer, then so be it: the big boys get one more run together.

  2. 100% with Artistry here. Now that everyone knows Staal is NOT resigning, they really don't have to give up anything. They just have to wait and bid. The question now is how to upgrade the defense and make a run. Vokoun is the best they can really do at goalie (and better than I had hoped for to be honest). They need to find another Scuderi to just make pucks disappear in the defensive zone. Watching him during the Finals was like watch Davinci (or even Bob Ross) paint. I'm not and have never been wild about young defenses. Find the hard nosed vets who are running out of time, have the ability, and know what it takes to get the job done.