Some notes on the players the Penguins added today. They’re ranked in order of how likely they are to make an impact on the NHL team this year.
Sergei Plotnikov (Getty Images)
LW, 6-2, 205, 25 (1 year, $925,000)
Aside from the obvious, probably the most impactful addition of the day. Jim Rutherford said the Penguins want to see how he fits in with their group first, of course, but that Plotnikov probably fits in as a top-six winger. For more on his game, check out this story from last week. It’s got comments from a former teammate of his, Stephen Dixon.
Kevin Porter (avalanche.nhl.com)
C, 5-11, 194, 29 (1 year, $575,000)
Rutherford said the Penguins are still shopping for a fourth-line center. If they don’t get one, Porter could push Oskar Sundqvist for the job. Porter was a big deal in college, winning the Hobey Baker Award in 2008 for Michigan. He’s played 206 NHL games and had a 14-goal season with Colorado in 2010-11, but he’s been in the minors most of the last two seasons. He’s a little too small to be a bottom-six guy and not quite skilled enough to be a top-six guy, but he’s still useful in a lot of roles.
Tim Erixon (bluejackets.nhl.com)
D, 6-3, 199, 24 (signed for one more year at $600,000)
He’s positioned as an inconsequential throw-in in the Kessel deal, but maybe not. He was considered a pretty decent prospect not all that long ago and spent all of last season in the NHL, albeit with three teams (Columbus, Chicago and Toronto). His scouting report reads a lot like Brian Dumoulin’s — big but not very physical, greatest strength is the way he moves the puck. I think I’d slide him into the Pens depth chart around No. 8, in the same area as Niclas Andersen.
Kael Mouillierat (islanders.nhl.com)
C, 6-0, 200, 27 (1 year, $575,000)
This guy has been one of favorite AHL players the last few years. He can play any forward position up and down the lineup and has some sneaky skill. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying he’s a diamond in the rough or anything like that. I’m just saying he could compete with Porter and Sundqvist for a spot on the depth chart. Why not?
David Warsofsky (bruins.nhl.com)
D, 5-8, 170, 25 (1 year, $600,000)
The reason he’s only played 10 NHL games with the Bruins is self-evident. He’s 5-8. But he’s a good skater with a good shot. He performed well when I saw him in the playoffs for Providence against WBS. And he’s young enough where he can still get better.
Steve Oleksy (Associated Press)
D, 6-0, 190, 29 (1 year, $575,000)
He’s a tough defenseman who came up the hard way, playing in places like Port Huron and Idaho along the way. The Baby Pens hated playing against him when he was the captain of the Hershey Bears last season. He and Dominik Uher had a long-running feud. Not terribly talented, but very hard to play against.
Tyler Biggs (nhl.com)
RW, 6-3, 224, 22 (signed for one more year at $894,166)
He was a first-round pick for Toronto and he played a supporting role with their AHL team, so the fanbase labeled him a bust. Getting away from the Leafs might be the best thing that could happen to him. His scouting report reminds me of Adam Payerl. Big, strong, not flashy, protects the puck, hits and fights a bit. If he develops into a fourth-line NHL option, it’s a win.
I got a chance to talk to Biggs this afternoon. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Where were you when you heard you were a part of the biggest trade of the offseason?
A: I was actually on the golf course. I was on the fourth hole, so I had to be answering calls and finishing my round at the same time. The focus wasn’t there, I can tell you that.
Q: You had a big year in Oshawa in 2012-13, but you haven’t put up big numbers in two seasons with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. What has the transition been like?
I don’t think it’s a lack of size or skill or anything like that. My first year, coming into a veteran team, being a young guy, we had a great run, potentially for a Calder (Cup) there my first year and it was a matter of almost taking a back seat. Nobody likes doing that, but as a young guy and a role player, sometimes you have to do that. I had no problem doing that with such a great team we had. It’s not a huge transition that I haven’t figured out yet or anything.
Q: So you’re the kind of guy who can feel like you’ve had a good game without scoring goals?
They definitely didn’t draft me to score goals. I play a certain way. There’s a lot of responsibility in the game I play. I can play center or wing, wherever they want to throw me, in different situations. As far as points go, it’s not something I’ve concerned myself with.
Q: Do you feel like a fresh start in a new organization might be good for you?
A: Maybe like a weight lifted off shoulders, that kind of thing. I think people don’t understand, the media attention in a Toronto or Montreal, you don’t know what you’re going to get. It can change dramatically. It has nothing to do with the fans. It’s a great city, a great organization. I was super excited to be a part of it. It’s just for any young kid, that’s a lot of pressure to take.
Q: You had an Achilles injury last season. How is it coming along?
A: I’ll be good to go come training camp for sure. I had it stepped on. It was cut about 70 percent. It’s coming along just fine, though. I’m excited to hit the ice again.
Bye for now,