Before we get into what is shaping up to be an extremely busy few weeks of wheeling and dealing in the NHL, a quick comment on the Stanley Cup Finals. The Blackhawks are as deserving of a champion as there could be. They were the best team wire-to-wire, kept it together in the face of a meltdown against Detroit, and did what the Pens couldn't do against Boston -- weather the storm of their own frustrations long enough to allow the law of averages to take over and Rask to let in a few goals. As much satisfaction as it brings us to have seen Boston collapse in such a heartbreaking manner -- and it brings us A LOT of satisfaction -- there are no "what ifs" for the Pens. The Hawks were the best team. Certainly better than the Penguins.
In other news...
- The Pens have agreed to a 3-year extension with Chris "Hands" Kunitz (we call him Hands because he has terrible hands at times, but at other times they are soft as baby thighs). He will have a $3.85M cap hit, which is basically just his current contract ($3.725M) plus tuition to send his kids to Shadyside Academy.
We were preparing to write a post making the case that the Pens should seriously consider trading Chris Kunitz, especially if the team gets a legit top-6 forward what seems like an increasingly likely Letang trade. But there's also a very strong case to be made that this is a smart extension. He has been a very productive player with the Pens -- he finished seventh in the league in scoring, and was a PLUS 30 in only 48 games. It's a reasonable price for Hands. He also has proven chemistry with Sid and Geno, which isn't as easy to find as it should be.
- The Lightning are going to buy out Vinny Lecavailer's contract, meaning Vinny is going to be a free agent. The Mike Ribeiro replacement in Washington?
- Lots of talk out there about the Leafs having interest in Kris Letang or maybe Kris Letang having interest in the Leafs. It's not really a story if the Leafs are interested in Letang, as every team in the league has to be at least somewhat interested in Letang, including the Pens who it seems are wisely still trying to find a way to sign the guy. We've all talked ourselves into him being traded as if it were a foregone conclusion, but if he's willing to stay for a reasonable cap hit ($7M or less), then the best move is to lock him up.
But if that doesn't happen, and our hunch is that he will be traded, then the ultimate feather in GTOG's cap will be when he's traded to Toronto for the exact package we proposed in Day 1 of Kris Letang trade week. It is going to happen.
- Pens are making a qualifying offer to Tyler Kennedy, just because that's what you do if you don't want an asset to walk for nothing. TK is always going to be one of those guys who sucks when he's playing, but who you desperately need in the lineup when he's not playing. It feels like it might be time for him to move on, but there are worse options to get 13 minutes a night on the 3rd line.