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 hockey-reference.com, 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,