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June 16, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie

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Leave the Flyers, Win a Prize


In the wake of Kimmo Timonen and the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup last night, colleague Chris Adamski tweeted this:


I think I can answer that.

Here’s a list of players who spent a long time with the Flyers (at least four seasons) who won a Cup relatively soon after leaving the team. I found 11. That seems like a lot.

SIMON GAGNE 10 664 2010 2012, LA KINGS
RICK TOCCHET 8 531 1992 1992, PENGUINS
KIMMO TIMONEN 7 519 2015 2015, CHICAGO
JEFF CARTER 6 461 2011 2012, LA KINGS
MIKE RICHARDS 6 453 2011 2012, LA KINGS
DAVE BROWN 6 313 1989 1990, EDMONTON
SHJON PODEIN 5 301 1998 2001, COLORADO
KEN LINSEMAN 4 240 1982 1984, EDMONTON

Your humble blog proprietor isn’t suggesting this information be used to snicker at the Flyers and their 40-year Cup drought. Just presenting the facts.

Bye for now,



June 15, 2015
by Jason Mackey

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Five thoughts: Kessel, offer sheets and more


Happy Monday, everyone. First off, I’ll join the great Brian Metzer (@Brian_Metzer) for my inaugural appearance on Penguins Radio 24/7 at 5:30 p.m. You can listen here.

In the meantime, here’s the debut of an occasional blog feature we’d like to start called Five Thoughts.

Keep in mind, I don’t pluck these out of thin air. Don’t survey folks at the grocery store or Get Go, either. These are opinions based on information obtained by talking to folks within the organization.


1. I doubt the Penguins will make a run at Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel, who listed Pittsburgh among the eight teams he’d accept a trade to.

Not only because of Kessel’s cap hit – $8 million – but because he wouldn’t fit within their system, specifically with centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Coach Mike Johnston had Crosby play more of a two-way game this season. What message does signing Kessel – a player not exactly known for his defense – send?

Check out Kessel’s GA60 over the past five years. It ain’t pretty.

2014-15 = 3.36
2013-14 = 2.75
2012-13 = 2.68
2011-12 = 3.28
2010-11 = 2.95

Plus, signing Kessel would tie $33.45 million to five players … or, put another way, roughly 48 percent of a $70 million salary cap.


2. Putting together an offer sheet – for Brandon Saad or anyone – will be really hard, if not impossible, for the Penguins. Sure, they have interest in Saad. Ditto for the rest of the league. But the math here doesn’t work. It’s why putting together an offer sheet is not something that has been seriously entertained.

Take a look at the draft-pick compensation rules for RFAs, per, numbered for convenience:

1. $1,110,249 or below = None
2. Over $1,110,249 to $1,682,194 = Third-round choice
3. Over $1,682,194 to $3,364,391 = Second-round choice
4. Over $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 = First-round and third-round choice
5. Over $5,046,585 to $6,728,781 = First-round, second-round and third-round choice
6. Over $6,728,781 to $8,410,976 = Two first-round choices, one second- and one third-round choice
7. Over $8,410,976 = Four first-round choices

The Penguins do not have a second-round pick in 2016 (it went to Toronto in the Daniel Winnik deal), so cross off Nos. 3, 5 and 6. They could acquire a second-round pick, but anything used for an offer-sheet can’t come via trade. Has to be their own.

Nos. 1 and 2 simply would never happen. That leaves us with two scenarios and questions:

A. Will Saad play here for a salary between $3,364,391-$5,046,585?
B. Would the Penguins spend $8,410,977 or more AND sacrifice four first-round choices?

Really, really doubt either scenario unfolds.


3. First-round picks are tough to come by.

Not exactly a huge statement, I know. But I do believe exorbitant asking prices will keep the Penguins out of the first round of the NHL Draft.

There’s already significant talk about how to best use their second-round pick and get the most bang for their buck.

“I would say highly unlikely” was how one front-office member put it to me when I asked about acquiring a first-rounder.


4. The Penguins can’t give University of Minnesota defenseman Mike Reilly the playing time (or promise of it) that he can likely get elsewhere. As a result, I see him going to the Blackhawks, Kings or Wild … not to the Penguins.

I wrote about this for Tuesday’s print edition, how Reilly has not visited Pittsburgh, and fail to see how the Penguins’ current blue-line situation can look all that appealing to the 21-year-old Reilly.

Currently, he’s staring at the possibility of Rob Scuderi, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, Ben Lovejoy, Ian Cole, Scott Harrington, Brian Dumoulin and Taylor Chorney possibly competing for NHL work in 2015-16.

Tough to sell potential playing time there.


5. As I wrote last week, it’s not final – but extremely unlikely – the Penguins will bring back Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff (see answer above, too).

That $9 million (really about $7 million when you consider paying their young replacements) will be invested in top-six wingers. This is not news. GM Jim Rutherford has acknowledged as much publicly on numerous occasions.

While I used to think the majority of that would be dedicated to someone who can play with Malkin, I now believe there’s a strong chance you could see Malkin and Crosby each get a new linemate. With a fairly even financial split, too, depending on the market.

Much of this will also be dictated by the trade market for Chris Kunitz and whether or not they believe they can resign Blake Comeau.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,



June 14, 2015
by Jason Mackey

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Bunch of extras from Rutherford story


Hope by now you’ve had a chance to read my up-close look at Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who can do a lot of good — or bad — over the next two-plus weeks through the NHL Draft and the start of free agency.

Really had fun reporting this story. Tons of funny stories.

It actually started prior to when the Penguins played in Carolina for the second time this past season, on March 26. I thought it would be interesting — given the close proximity I’d be to all of this stuff — to explore just who Rutherford was/is in Carolina.

Several helped, as you may have read. Others did, too, but I couldn’t fit what they said or what they told me. So I hoped to do some of that here.

=Like Eric Staal, who himself had a few meetings at P.F. Chang’s.

“He was here for a very, very long time,” Staal told me. “Right when (the Hurricanes) moved here, he built a foundation of the game in general. When you’re the leader of the pro team, a lot of questions are asked of you. The knowledge of hockey started with you, and he was that for a very long time here.”

=As you know, Rutherford doesn’t talk to anyone on gamedays, his wife included. I was told a story how, in Raleigh, he always stopped at Bruegger’s Bagels on the way home from the morning skate. The employees there knew not to talk to him.

When I walk past Rutherford on gamedays, I simply put my head down and only speak if I’m spoken to.

Here’s Rutherford expounding on the whole thing:

“My wife is old enough to know what the routine is,” Rutherford said. “She stays back a little bit. And my daughter, when she’s around. … everybody in my family kind of understands, even when people come in and visit. There’s lots to talk about after the game, not as much before.

“Then I get superstitious. Because sometimes I’ll say hello to someone or ask how they’re doing, and we lose that game. So the next time I see them I walk right by them. Because it’s a superstition. Not because they did anything.”

=Current Carolina GM Ron Francis was also outstanding. One nugget I left out from Francis was this: Francis signed his second contract with Carolina at P.F. Chang’s. The backstory both men told me was that negotiations had stalled, Rutherford called Francis to ask him to lunch, and the deal — with just the two of them talking — took less than 10 minutes to finalize.

“I think it’s important for people to know where they stand,” Francis said in a quote that appeared in the story. “He was very good at having those conversations and being open and honest with people so they knew exactly where they were.”

=I was also told a story by Hurricanes minority owner Abel Zalcberg about when Rutherford signed Alexander Semin to a gaudy contract many have scrutinized the Rutherford for. Well, the night this all went down, Zalcberg and Rutherford were at dinner with their wives.

“We were sitting down to dinner,” Zalcberg said. “Jim gets a phone call. He was always on the phone. He gets off the phone. He says, ‘We just signed Semin.’ My wife asks, ‘Is he happy here?’ Jim responds, ‘Well, he has 35 million reasons to be happy now.’ ”

=Or from Doug Warf, Hurricanes VP of marketing. Warf told me how Rutherford would have Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners in the office, that loving-where-you-work was a big thing for him.

“You know how you might not fear your dad, but you fear disappointing your dad?’ ” Warf wondered aloud. “That’s how you felt with Jim.”

=This is off the funny-Rutherford-story path, but I still found it interesting. In my interview with Penguins president/CEO David Morehouse, who was wonderfully candid about a lot of things, he addressed the firing of Ray Shero and the hiring of Rutherford.

“Ray did a good job here,” Morehouse said. “Ray won a Stanley Cup. He did a lot of good things here. Talking positively about Jim I don’t think is a reflection negatively about Ray. I think that the organization needed a change. In all organizations, sports or not, change needs to happen sometimes. We needed change. We got lucky with who we got in that change. We’re happy about it.”

Be GRATEFUL to each other,



June 12, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie

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Friday Fun and Games


Here’s a couple of Friday time-wasters for you.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup in 2009. Trib social media guru Mike Palm has dug up some stories from that momentous occasion. The game story and a column about the Game 7 hero.

It got me thinking. After that victory, 25 players had their names engraved on the Stanley Cup. How many do you remember?

On another topic, while I was looking up some numbers on Patrick Sharp yesterday, I came across a list of the top NHL scorers of this decade — from the 2010-11 season on. There are 22 players with at least 300 points. How many can you name in five minutes?

I was surprised by No. 1. How about you?


June 12, 2015
by Jason Mackey

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Reality on Martin, Ehrhoff and Lapierre?


There was some confusion yesterday surrounding the statuses of Penguins defensemen Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff, as well as center Maxim Lapierre.

My hope is to clear some of that up here.

Marc Antoine Godin (@MAGodin) of La Presse tweeted the following: “Penguins have decided to go for a full youth movement on defense, won’t bring back Martin and Ehrhoff. They’d rather invest on wingers.”

Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports and Journal de Montréal tweeted the following: Max Lapierre won’t be back with the Penguins and will be UFA on July first. #tvasports.”

Neither tweet is sourced to the player, his agent or Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford.

The reporters may be right, too. Not saying I’m God’s gift to reporting or anything, but their information definitely doesn’t match what Rutherford and Martin’s agent told me on the record.

Yesterday, in the process of reporting Pascal Dupuis’ clearance, I asked Rutherford whether there were any unrestricted free agents he could say would definitely not be brought back.

Craig Adams was the only name I got. And this quote:

“I don’t want to cross anybody off the list because you don’t know what happens here in the next month,” Rutherford said. “You don’t know what happens on July 1. We’ll wait until the middle of July to see what we’ve done and see what the marketplace is for some of these guys.”

Some context: Yes, Rutherford knows when free agency starts. The organization’s view goes something like this: Martin will get paid – if he wants. But it might be with a team he doesn’t necessarily want to play for, and he could come back to Pittsburgh for shorter/cheaper to chase a championship. It will be his call. Lapierre could enter the market with a price tag the Penguins view as too high for what he brings, and they envision a non-July 1 signing as a possible scenario.

I also reached out to agents for Martin and Lapierre, Ben Hankinson and Don Meehan, respectively. Meehan has not responded, but Hankinson told me this in a text message.

“No decisions have been made yet on Paul and Penguins,” Hankinson wrote. “Not ruling out coming back.”

That’s both sides saying Martin’s not gone. As for Ehrhoff, his agent, Rick Curran, offered this to NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk website, and I wouldn’t invest in an Ehrhoff jersey just yet. His Upper St. Clair house is also on the market. Doesn’t look like he wants to stay around. Normally you don’t sell your house when that’s the case.

Do I think Martin, Ehrhoff and Lapierre will be back? No, I don’t. But – as has become the problem a lot lately – there’s no shortage of conflicting information out there.

Just telling you what I have.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,



June 11, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie

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Hitting Grand Slams


There’s a common thread in the roster construction of the only two NHL teams still playing hockey these days. Both Chicago and Tampa Bay have a couple of grand slams on their roster.

I’m not talking about high draft picks who became superstars. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman are obviously critical pieces of the success of their teams, but they were all top-three draft picks. It doesn’t take shrewd general managering or a keen eye for talent to add them to the roster.

I’m talking about Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat for Tampa Bay and Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad for Chicago.

Johnson, undrafted and undersized, signed with Tampa, tore up the AHL for two years, moved to the NHL and became one of the most dangerous offensive players in the game.

Palat was a seventh-round pick in the 2011 draft, 208th overall. That’s four from the bottom. He was taken dozens and dozens of picks after guys like Harrison Ruopp, Dominik Uher, Josh Archibald and Ryan Dzingel. I mention Ruopp, Uher and Archibald because they’re Penguins prospects. I mention Dzingel because it’s a fun name to say out loud. Dzingel. Anyway, yesterday, Tampa coach Jon Cooper said, “You could make an instructional video on how to play the game by following Palat,” and he’s not wrong.

Sharp was a third-round pick of the Flyers in 2001, but after three seasons in the system, he was considered a middling prospect. Philly shipped him to Chicago, with former Penguins winger Eric Meloche, for Matt Ellison and a third-round pick. Sharp went on to have four 30-goal seasons with the Blackhawks.

Here’s a list of active NHL players with the most career 30-goal seasons. How many of them could be acquired for Matt Ellison and a third-round pick?


Then there’s Saad. Much has been made about the Penguins passing on Gibsonia’s finest in the 2011 draft and understandably so. He’s emerging as one of the top young wingers in the game. But keep in mind that he was the 43rd pick in that draft.

I’m not saying that to absolve the Penguins for passing on him in an every-other-team-passed-on-him-too kind of way. I’m pointing out that the Blackhawks hit a grand slam in taking him that late.

Look at the top scorers from the 2011 draft. The only three players on the list who weren’t drafted in the top 10 are Saad, Palat and Andrew Shaw. And they’re on teams that are still playing. That can’t be a coincidence.


Who are the grand slams on the Penguins roster? I don’t know if I see any. I think Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis used to be those guys, since they were almost throw-ins in larger deals, but those guys are starting to age out. Who’s next?

It’s an important question to answer. In the salary cap era, teams have to hit few grand slams to build a championship roster.

x x x

I planned to take a look at some of the more intriguing players available in unrestricted free agency today, but the Dupuis news trumped it. I’ll get to it before July 1. I promise.

Bye for now,



June 11, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie

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Me and Dupuis


The news of the day is Pascal Dupuis being cleared for contact. His blood clot is gone and doctors have found a blood thinner that Dupuis can still play while taking. Jason Mackey’s got you covered on the story. Here’s a link.

In the meantime, I thought I’d better earn my keep around here and provide some kind of Dupuis-related content, so here it is. It’s a bit of statistical analysis.

I think it’s a generally accepted idea that Dupuis has been a pretty good linemate for Sidney Crosby over the years. Let’s put that theory to the test.

I went to and looked for the players who have been on the ice with Crosby for at least 300 minutes of 5-on-5 play since Dupuis joined the team in 2007-08. There were 11 of them.

I ranked those 11 players by Corsi Percentage. That is, when the following players were on the ice with Crosby, what percentage of the game’s shots were attempted by the Penguins? A Corsi Percentage of 50, for example, would mean the Penguins and their opponents attempted an equal number of shots.

It might not be the most advanced stat in the world, but I’m new to this stuff, so bear with me. It’s not a bad indication of which way the ice tilts when a certain player combination is on the ice. Here’s the list.


OK, so what does this tell us?

First, I think the popular idea of how well Crosby and Dupuis play together is pretty much right on the money. It’s a very good combination. Not the greatest ever, but very good.

Second, I think the Malkin numbers might be skewed by the score effect. Over the years, Crosby and Malkin haven’t played together a ton 5-on-5 unless the Penguins were trailing. At that point, human nature indicates the Penguins would attempt more shots than their opponents.

Third, I think there’s a popular conception that Guerin was effective with the Penguins because he was a great locker room guy with intangibles and whatnot. This seems to indicate he played some pretty good hockey at the time too.

Finally, this leads me to believe the Crosby-Perron combination deserves some more time next season. The results weren’t really spectacular when they played together as far as goals for versus goals against, but the large Corsi Percentage indicates to me that might change with some more time together.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m new to this advanced stats business, so I may be using them as more of a blunt object than a sharp tool. If that is the case and there are holes in my logic, by all means, leave a comment. I won’t be offended.

Stay tuned for another blog post later with notes on Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.

Bye for now,



June 10, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie

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Loney Boy


Remember this name: Ty Loney.

Troy’s 23-year-old son signed an AHL deal with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as an undrafted free agent the other day, but this was no will-you-get-my-kid-a-job deal.

He’s a big kid who averaged 10 goals a year at the University of Denver. He had two goals and two assists in a five-game AHL stay with Norfolk at the end of last season. Those numbers aren’t too shabby.

Skating could be an issue, but a couple things about Loney that make me think he could be a nice prospect.

The first is size. He was 6-3, 180 when he arrived at the University of Denver as a freshman and he’s 6-3, 205 now. The first Denver coach he mentioned in our interview was the strength and conditioning guy.

The second is the head on his shoulders. Excellent interview. Helped out on a volunteer basis in New Orleans after Katrina and in Costa Rica. Seems very mature and focused.

“I learned that you cannot be content with where you’re at,” he said. “You have to try to get better every single day. Even in college, there’s somebody right there who’s trying to knock down the door and take your spot, and I can only imagine how much harder that gets at the professional level. You have to put in a lot of work every day.”

I have a little story about Loney in the Trib tomorrow, so be on the lookout for that. Also, keep an eye on the blog tomorrow. I’ll make up a list of some under-the-radar NHL UFAs that are intriguing. There are a couple of names that have caught my eye.

Bye for now,



June 10, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie

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The Future of Farnham


Here’s a bit of news that will be of great interest to the freelance columnist/afternoon sports talk radio host/Buffalo native demographic and perhaps a few others.

A super-secret source has confirmed to Chipped Ice that the Penguins indeed wish to re-sign winger Bobby Farnham.

OK, it wasn’t really a super-secret source. When I was talking to general manager Jim Rutherford the other day, I asked if the Penguins would like to re-sign Farnham and he said yes.

The context was a discussion about the Penguins wanting to construct a roster for next season that has a little bit more youth and speed. That puts a focus on prospects like Scott Wilson, Bryan Rust, Kasperi Kapanen and Oskar Sundqvist, but it also might include Farnham.

Farnham played four years at Brown so he’s 26, but it’s a fairly young 26. He’s only played three pro seasons and he still has the exuberance of youth on his side. Lots and lots of exuberance, in fact. And he’s definitely fast, which is probably his greatest strength. There are other players who can hit, chirp, draw penalties and otherwise disturb shifts. Few, if any, are as fast as Farnham.

If the Penguins wait until July 1 to re-sign Farnham, they might have some competition. I know there’s a head coach in New Jersey, for instance, who loves the way he plays. So the clock’s ticking. The Penguins have 20 days before Beautiful Bobby goes UFA.

While I’m on a Farnham kick, here’s a stat I find interesting.

Among players who appeared in at least 10 NHL games last season, Farnham was the runaway leader in penalties drawn per 60 minutes of ice time. Here, look at the list. It’s remarkable.


Add it all up and the Penguins went on 3.73 power plays per game with Farnham in the lineup and 3.0 power plays per game without him. That, in a nutshell, is his value. Say what you will about the Penguins power play, it was still ranked 10th-best in the league and it still features some of the most skilled players on the planet. The more power plays the Penguins get, the better off they are.

x x x

Hello, I’m Jonathan Bombulie. Although such a position would be fascinating, I am not the Trib’s new Bobby Farnham beat writer. I’m the new hockey writer, and this is my first post to the Chipped Ice blog. It won’t be my last. Jason and I are committed to making this a must-read for Penguins fans online. So we’ll post all sorts of things – occasionally big news, sometimes small news, sometimes trivia, sometimes lists and stats, sometimes analysis – on a regular basis.

Here’s my goal: If you’re a Penguins fan and you’re waiting to pick up the kid from school or sitting in the dentist’s waiting room or otherwise killing time, I want you to visit Chipped Ice on your phone or tablet and have something interesting to read.

In the way of biographical information, I’m originally from Greensburg — Greensburg Central Catholic class of 1992, Penn State class of 1996 – but have been living in Wilkes-Barre covering the Baby Pens for the last 16 years or so. Right now, I’m living in a guest bedroom in my parents’ house in Greensburg while my wife stays back in the Wilkes-Barre area, trying to sell our house. So yeah, it’s an interesting little stretch here for me.

My interests include my dog (a 9-pound maltipoo named Bert), Japanese pro wrestling, drive-in movies and English darts. All-time favorite band is Guns n Roses. I have about 10 songs on my iPod from this century and they’re mostly Wiz Khalifa or Tyga. Like a good yinzer, my favorite vacation spot is Myrtle Beach. I’m always on the lookout for a good fish sandwich.

Check back here on the blog later today for a little something I’m working on about Troy Loney’s baby boy. Until then …

Bye for now,



June 4, 2015
by Jason Mackey

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MACKEY: Expect Pens to go young on D


A new feature here, a columnized look at how the Penguins will approach free agency:

Finding a top-six winger or two will headline what the Penguins do in free agency, through a trade or both.

A much less heralded move, however, will be getting younger, especially on defense.

The Penguins were the third-oldest team in the NHL in 2014-15. Average player age: 28.225. Ranking: 28th. Translation: not good.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have an average player age of 26.382, and they’re still playing hockey.

How do the Penguins get younger?

Well, I’m told that buyouts aren’t seriously being considered at this point, so scratch that off the list.

Trades are much more likely, specifically deals that help the Penguins shed salary for picks or players you’ve never heard of. You know, cheap ones that come low-risk.

Essentially, we’re talking salary dump.

Rob Scuderi is a candidate. A strong one, actually, provided the Penguins find a dance partner. Chris Kunitz, too, but to a lesser extent from what I understand.

Moving Scuderi will free up $3.375 in salary-cap space. It, along with the expected departures of Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff through free agency, will open the door for Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington to find regular NHL work.

Just think, the Penguins’ opening night defensemen in 2014-15 averaged 27.4 years.

If Harrington takes the same step Dumoulin in the playoffs and nudges Ben Lovejoy into the seventh spot, the average age for the 2015-16 iteration could become 23.6 years.

Even if Lovejoy holds his ground and forced Harrington or Dumoulin to the American Hockey League, the average age is still 25.2.

But it’s not just the defensemen who are in need of a youth movement; it’s the whole team.

September will mark the seventh start of a season since the Penguins last won the Stanley Cup, in 2008-09. That year, the Penguins were the 10th-youngest team in the NHL with an average age of 27.435 years.

Over the next six seasons, they ranked 25th, 15th, 24th, 26th, 28th and 28th. You know what they did in the playoffs: reached the Eastern Conference Finals once. And this past season, surprisingly, was the second-lowest of those six numbers.

It has to start on defense. Ehrhoff was 32 years old on opening night last year. Martin was 33, Scuderi 35. Ehrhoff won’t be back. I’m also taking Taylor Chorney out of this equation because I believe another team will be wise to snap him up, making an offer the Penguins can or won’t match.

The door isn’t closed on Martin, but the Penguins aren’t expecting a July 1 deal — if at all. It will likely have to come later, after Martin decides he doesn’t want to play for a mediocre team and takes what the Penguins can give him to stay here. It’s not likely.

What the Penguins are banking on is Derrick Pouliot, Dumoulin and Harrington being ready. Or at least as ready as they will ever be.

Nobody was thrilled with how Pouliot finished the year. To the point where coach Mike Johnston has been given the offseason task of figuring out Pouliot’s game, how to best motivate him and keep him playing responsible defensively while not sacrificing offense.

But the kids have to play.

If not now, when?

Be GRATEFUL to each other,


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