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Analysis on Sykora, cap and Kovalchuk



Per the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, former Penguin RW Petr Sykira is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

A couple of weeks back, I tossed out the suggestion of Sykora returning to the Penguins, with whom he scored 25 goals last season. He tallied only twice in 16 games with the Minnesota Wild, who used him mostly as a fourth-line winger. Misplaced, I’d say. If Sykora cannot be a scoring winger in this league, he cannot play. He’d be the first to say that.

Even if the Penguins were interested — and I’ve not heard from one organizational source that they are — fitting Sykora under the salary cap would be a problem, even at a prorated deal. As noted today, the Penguins are not in a great cap spot, though neither are more top contending teams.

Something to keep in mind about the salary cap: The Penguins must save as much money on a daily basis now as possible — another reason for the up-and-down ways of their AHL players — because upon the return from the Olympic break they will play what feels like an every-other-day schedule until the playoffs. Their Olympians that figure to see a lot of ice-time in Vancouver  — Cs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Ds Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik — may need a blow for games in the final six weeks of the NHL season; the Penguins cannot waste money against the cap now and risk not having the call-up option for March-April.


Full disclosure: Few reporters were as surprised as I when the Penguins swung a deal at the 2008 Trade Deadline to land RW Marian Hossa. However, it is important to remember that they had considerable cap space — and the blessing of ownership to use it — for that trade, which also netted RW Pascal Dupuis.

Assistant general manager Jason Botterill scouted the Atlanta-Anaheim game on Tuesday, but nobody should jump to a conclusion that the Penguins are in the market for Thrashers LW Ilya Kovalchuk. Landing him would require a major roster shakeup because a hefty salary would need to be moved; also, count on Atlanta asking for the sky in return, because it clearly did not win the Hossa deal, which was the last time the Thrashers traded a star winger in the last year of his contract.

Over the past few weeks I’ve conversed with reporters far more familiar with the Kovalchuk saga than I; they insist that he will not re-sign with whatever team lands him before or at the March 3 trade deadline. He wants to test the UFA market.

So, aside from not having the cap space to deal for Kovalchuk without giving up a considerable return, the Penguins also know he will likely test the market on July 1, as Hossa did. The smart money is not on Shero wanting to experience an offseason similar to his 2008, when he eventually pulled out of extracted talks to keep Hossa. That summer he was working on deals to keep G Marc-Andre Fleury and Orpik, plus an extension for Malkin. This summer he might have new contracts for Gonchar and D Kris Letang on his plate, not to mention a hunt for wingers to potentially replace LWs Matt Cooke and Ruslan Fedotenko, and RW Bill Guerin.

I’ve been shocked once before by a Shero move at the deadline. Still, the numbers and logic don’t add up to the Penguins snagging Kovalchuk.


Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.


  1. Mark says:

    sign sykora!

  2. Mark says:

    and Kovalchuk

  3. Christopher says:


  4. Frank says:

    Petr Sykora?

    Here’s an idea. After grabbing up Skyora, Shero should see if the Senators are willing to trade Kovalev and if the Bruins are willing to deal Recchi. Then we would have the most inconsistent and oldest group of wingers in the NHL.


    As for Kovalchuk, as much as I would love to see him on a wing with Sidney Crosby, it’s not going to happen Penguin fans. We would have to give up way too much and his price tag is way too high.

  5. Mitch says:

    I agree that Kovalchuk would be too costly. What do you think about the possibility of Ray Whitney as a potential replacement for Bill Guerin? Also, with the penguins cap situation, will it be possible to re-sign Gonchar? Or could they potential see what kind of trade return they could get for him?


  6. Corey says:

    I’m all for getting a good winger and pursuing Whitney, but why on earth would you want to replace Bill Guerin??? He’s BY FAR our best and most consistent winger. That, in addition to the leadership he brings to the table makes him the last winger the Pens would want to replace.

  7. Eric says:

    kovalchuk to pens = stanley cup champions!

  8. Mark says:

    I have a hunch Colby Armstrong may be back

  9. Harp says:

    How is this for an idea? Shop Skoula who I recall is at 800M, use that money to get Sykora at half his 1.6M?
    If the Pens need a D call up they have Lovejoy who has proven he can play as well as Engelland if need be. Is Skoula really needed?
    Trouble would be where to put Sykora seeing as they already have one odd man out in Godard unless they play certain teams known for fighting.

    Seeing as nobody picked up Sykora from waivers at 800M, the above idea must not have even been a consideration from Shero.

  10. Ron says:

    The Pens would be foolish to resign Sykora. He doesn’t fit into their high speed system, and he doesn’t get along well with coach bylsma (in the sense that he doesn’t fit into the system…not some dispute). I like Petr, but his time his is over. He can’t produce on a team where he doesn’t have time speed to keep up.

  11. Mitch says:

    I agree one hundred percent about Bill Guerin. And I think Crosby really looks up to him. I just meant that Whitney is younger. And I was wrong, I thought Whitney was closer to 35. So, just maybe a good winger to have on your team. And take over a leadership role for a year or two after Billy G retires?

  12. Megan says:

    Kovalchuk= No
    How in the world would the Pens afford it? Sure it’s like a guaranteed Stanley Cup, but Shero’s good enough to find more great wingers in the off-season for seasons to come at cheaper prices. He should be focusing on Gonchar and Letang right now, instead of wingers that could potentially come up from WBS, such as Chris Conner and Luca Caputi. Chris and Luca are certainly good enough to make the team, and don’t forget about Eric Tangradi. All three are great prospects who may be good wingers on the lines needing filled.

  13. Frank says:

    There is a reason why “nobody picked up Sykora from waivers”. Sykora’s next stop should either be retirement or Europe.

  14. Ryan says:

    If the MINNESOTA WILD let go of a supposedly OFFENSIVE player for nothing…hintity hint hint.

  15. Franklen Willams iiiv says:

    I have heard a rumor that the pegs and the caps are talking a major deal for the pegs to land a young goalie

  16. Scot Kuzmish says:

    Admiring the time and effort you set into your blog and detailed data you supply! I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often. Thumbs up!

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