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Latest on JagrWatch, key to Dupuis deal, and how Caps might impact Kennedy.


Update time, dear readers; but first…

= A sincere thanks for all those following along on Twitter. The new name is @RobRossi_Trib – though it appears nobody has had much trouble figuring out the switch from @Rossi_on_Pens. Anyway, if following, you know I’m using it more this offseason than in previous ones; so please keep checking, as I’ll also post updates from fellow Trib hockey scribe Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_Trib), who is playing a big part in coverage of this run-up to Friday’s free-agent period.

= Credit to Josh, by the way, for the latest news on Jaromir Jagr, which can be found here:

I don’t know who is a part of this meeting, only that it isn’t being conducted in person. However, I did hear strong rumblings yesterday that there would be at least one more chat between Jagr and his idol/former teammate, Penguins majority co-owner Mario Lemieux.

From what I’m hearing, there should be a pretty good feel by Wednesday from both sides if a deal between the Penguins and Jagr will get done. That doesn’t mean the public will know anything by Wednesday, but I know both sides are interested in getting the ball rolling on a resolution.

Likely scenario is the Penguins making a “this is the best we can do” offer to Jagr, and giving him a deadline to say yes or no. I don’t anticipate a lot of negotiating between the sides. Anything else would be pure speculation at this point. However, let me add this about #JagrWatch:

  • The public comments by coach Dan Bylsma have been no accident. My guess, knowing Bylsma a bit, is that he’s been using the media to speak directly to Jagr the past several days. (This actually started several weeks ago, a story I can tell after this Jagr situation resolves itself.) Point is: Everybody I’ve talked to about Jagr says something similar to, “He wants to be told he’s wanted.” Bylsma has essentially been doing this since late last week – and who is to say that this wasn’t the plan all along from the Penguins; Shero presents the pragmatic side publicly while Bylsma sends verbal bouquets from afar. At the very least this is something to consider as #JagrWatch seemingly races towards the finish line.
  • Regarding the Red Wings and Canadiens – I suppose it is folly to rule either club out, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Montreal threw a monkey wrench into everything with a multiyear offer. Still, everything I’ve heard is that Jagr is waiting for the Penguins to make their pitch. From the beginning I’ve taken that to mean the Penguins are Jagr’s No.1 choice. At some point, presuming the Penguins make an offer, the puck will be on No. 68’s stick. Ultimately, this decision will come down to him, not the Penguins.


= Regarding the signing of Pascal Dupuis for two years at $3 million total, details of which you could read first about here:

This deal came together fast starting yesterday, and it emphasizes a point:

Never discount a good working relationship between a GM and an agent. Over the past few offseasons Ray Shero and Allan Walsh have closed quickly on deals for players such as Dupuis, Mike Rupp, Ruslan Fedotenko, Miroslav Satan, Petr Sykora, Zbynek Michalek and Marc-Andre Fleury. My view on the reason Shero and Walsh work well together is simple: Both men are tireless workers and honest, but they are also family men – and they connect on that level, even if the subject maybe rarely comes up. Shero has built a family atmosphere with the Penguins, and Walsh’s clients tend to gravitate toward those situations. Why is this important? Well, keep the Shero-Walsh history in mind before dismissing the possibility that something can get done with Rupp before Friday.

= As of now, nothing appears to have changed on the Rupp front. There will be several teams interested in paying him somewhat handsomely on Friday, certainly more than the $825,000 he made each of the past two seasons with the Penguins.

= Not sure about anybody else, but $1.5 million for what Dupuis brings is a great signing by Shero by my thinking. I suspect Dupuis gave the Penguins a hometown discount because he likes the situation. That isn’t a lot to pay a guy who is going to get between 15-20 goals, play hard penalty minutes, work “up and down the lineup” as Bylsma would say, and provides stout dressing room leadership. As I wrote in the last blog update, the Penguins know what they are getting from Dupuis, and that is a big advantage for a team dealing with little cap room. That Dupuis has won over Bylsma the past two seasons speaks to Dupuis professionalism and his commitment to getting the most out of his God-given talent.

= About the cap, it is worth reminding that though it will stand at $64.4 million next season, the Penguins will try to stay about $1.5 million within that heading into the season. This is done so the team has room to make moves during the season, especially at the trade deadline. So, with the signing of Dupuis, and counting only NHL contracts, the Penguins have approximately $6 million to spend under THEIR self-imposed cap number. The obvious question: Is that enough for Jagr and Tyler Kennedy? Remember, as we reported today, this is the Penguins’ plan heading into Friday:

= Intriguing deal between the Capitals and Brooks Laich, which you can read about here:

Looking at this, it strikes me as difficult to fathom how Kennedy’s agent doesn’t convince him to test the market Friday. A few weeks about I spoke with somebody in the Penguins organization who said he expected Kennedy to command at least $2 million as a restricted free agent or in an arbitration ruling. Now that he is unrestricted, the sky might not be the limit, but there certainly is a high ceiling for what a 24-year-old right-handed shooting winger coming off a 21-goal season figures to command.

Seemingly the only way the Penguins keep Kennedy off the market is if he, like Dupuis, decides flat out he wants to stay and gives the Penguins something back to stay. Given the likely bounty he could command starting Friday, I can’t come up with many logical reasons why he wouldn’t see what is out there.





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. Ctownlovespens says:

    great update! if kennedy is not signed what is the back up plan. If kennedy and jagr are both not signed who is out there that can help the pens?

  2. david brand says:

    Penguin success is dependent on special teams. Jagr would improve the power play and obviously having Crosby and Malkin back helps propel power play to top ten status. Signing Pascuil Dupios helps the power play kill immensley. Kennedy and Rupp are fringe players that can be replaced during the season.

  3. Robert says:

    I think the focus on Jagr has thrown a monkey wrench into Shero’s plan. If Rupp goes who will be anything close to an enforcer? I also thing signing Jagr will be a big mistake. As I commented yesterday I dread the younger players coming under his egotistic, selfish manner. On and off the ice. I am baffled there is even a discussion about signing Kennedy or Rupp. Have they lost sight of the fact they scored 105 points last year? Without Stall the first half, Crosby and Malkin the last half, Kunitz for more than a month and Cooke the last 10 games and the playoffs? Did they lose confidence in their Baby Pens this quick? I would rather see younger legs than Jagr’s any day. How many games before he pulls a groin trying to play Bylsma’s style. I am praying his choice is Detroit or Toronto. I see no positives in his signing.

  4. Joe says:

    Robert, you are dead wrong about Jagr – at least, the version of Jagr that we are currently presented with. Have you not read all of the recent articles talking about his professionalism and positive locker room impact? The ego and selfishness appear to be under control, which would be expected as someone matures. In fact, I’m sure that’s why he WANTS to come back – to prove to us Pittsburghers that he has grown and matured and is worthy of our adoration. Like Rossi says, he needs to be needed, and I think it’s a major issue for him that he left a bad taste in our collective mouths when he left. He wants to right that wrong and I think he can (and will).

    If we lose Rupp, we still have Engelland for the middle-weight bouts. And don’t forget about Cooke. We’ll be fine in that department, rest assured.

  5. yinzer says:

    Rupp is a very good role playing 4th line physical hockey player, but he is not an enforcer. Enforcers for the Pens last year were Eric Goddard and Deryk Engelland.

    The major problem with being a 4th liner is the seemingly low-end salary you command. If there is one thing good GM’s, like Shero, understand is not overpaying for a particular player and paying based on slot/value.

    So I pose this to question: Do you resign TK at 24 yrs old for 2-2.5 mil per year or a 32 yr old Rupper trying to get more than market value at 1+ mil? 21goals, 24 assists for TK – 9 goals, 8 assists for number 17. Something has to give and unfortunately it isn’t the cap.

  6. espo33 says:

    Robert-One thing to remember is that people do grow up a little bit more as they get older. Hopefully this is the case with Robert. I am sure Shero did his homework on him with Michelek and other Czech guys that were on that team.

    He is still a big guy and would be hard to take off the puck on the boards and if he gets open to score from Crosby/Malkin he will score, no doubt.

  7. LetGoPens says:

    Engelland proved he could fight (and win) against the best in the NHL. He’s more than capable of being their enforcer when one is needed. If he ends up being the 7th d-man, dress him on the 4th line when a goon is needed. In other words, let Rupp go.

  8. daryl says:

    Jagr is a rare breed of superstar whom should be able to provide pens with that elusive finishing power on wing they haven’t had in a while.

  9. espo33 says:

    LetGoPens-Rupp is more then a goon. He is a pretty good player. Not the best skater, but a pretty good 3rd or 4th liner for the team.

  10. LetGoPens says:

    espo33…I understand that, but I don’t know if everyone does. My point was the Pens don’t need him for the sole purpose of fighting. I would love to see the Pens keep Rupp, but something has got to give with the cap. Especially since it looks like some teams will be overpaying and driving up prices just to hit the cap min. Engelland and now Asham can fill the fighting role if required.

  11. Green pen says:

    No way that j jager should get a too big money but he if locked
    Will give 20 goals. Or 16 set ups Go 68 for us !

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