Category Archives: Pit. Penguins

Predicting Protected Lists: Pittsburgh Penguins 

The Pittsburgh Penguins, as everyone knows by now, have a huge decision to make in goal before the expansion draft. Marc-Andre Fleury has a no-movement clause and needs to be traded beforehand. Matt Murray is the future in the crease of Pittsburgh and that is not expected to change. 

We will get to goalies later, so starting up front, three Penguins have no-movement clauses. They are Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel. None of these are a problem, though, as none were going to be exposed anyways. 

The Penguins are highly likely to protect seven forwards and three defensemen, so that makes Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust obvious selections. 

After those five players, though, the field is mixed and the players getting the last two spots are unclear. 

Carl Hagelin, granted, seems like a safe bet. This is based only on the ideology that there are not many other players that could be protected. 

Unless the Penguins sign Chris Kunitz or Matt Cullen to an extension, both Tom Kuhnhackl and Scott Wilson will need to be exposed to meet the requirement. 

Nick Bonino is left off of this list because he is an unrestricted free agent as well. If he is re-signed before the expansion draft, which rightfully seems improbable, he will be protected. 

The last spot could perhaps go to Josh Archibald or Oskar Sundqvist. Neither are ideal options, but it is the only choice Jim Rutherford has. 

On defense, Kris Letang is the only sure-fire pick. However, it appears that the Penguins will want to protect Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz as well. 

Both Dumoulin and Schultz are pending restricted free agents. Although they play different styles, both players have been integral to Pittsburgh’s success this season and last. 

This scenario would leave Olli Maatta exposed. The first round pick from 2012 is not a bad player, however he has not progressed as well as the Penguins would have hoped. His skating is the most glaring issue in his game. 

As for goaltenders, the expectation is that Marc-Andre Fleury and his no-movement clause will be traded. This would allow for Matt Murray to be protected. 

Even if Fleury is not immediately traded, he will likely waive his no-movement clause for the team. He has been nothing but supportive over the past two years with him and Murray battling for the crease and he has been a team first guy for the Penguins for the entirety of his career. It will hurt the organization and fans to see Fleury go, but it is just what has to happen. 

In total, the Penguins protected list could look like this:

Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust, Carl Hagelin, and Josh Archibald OR Oskar Sundqvist 

Defense: Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, and Justin Schultz 

Goalie: Matt Murray 

Olli Maatta seems like the most likely to go to Vegas in this case. If Maatta is protected, it becomes Schultz or Dumoulin. 

Next team: San Jose Sharks

Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

April showers bring May flowers: who has the best chance of coming back in Round 2?

As the hockey season moves from April to May, the playing field shrinks. Currently eight teams remain, but soon enough the group will whittle down to four.

As of now, Pittsburgh, Washington, Ottawa, New York (Rangers), St. Louis, Nashville, Edmonton, and Anaheim remain. For these series, Pittsburgh leads Washington 2-0, Ottawa leads New York 2-0, Nashville leads St. Louis 2-1, and Edmonton leads Anaheim 2-1. Each of these are far from over, however the odds have begun to shift to the favor of one team per series. But the questions that begs is who, of the teams currently down in a series, has the best chance of making a comeback and advancing to the Conference Finals?

For me, it’s the New York Rangers. Although their defense, with the likes of Holden, Staal, and Girardi, is shaky, their lightning quick offense and superstar goalie could be enough to propel them on a run past Ottawa.

The Rangers and Senators have been locked in a back-and-forth series through the first two games. In Game 1, Erik Karlsson scored the game winner from the goal line with 4:11 left in regulation. Game 2 was a barn burner that resulted in a 6-5 Senators win in double overtime. The games cannot be defined as anomalies by any means, but regardless the series is not over by any stretch of the imagination.

To win the series, the Rangers need Henrik Lundqvist to go into Conn Smythe form. His save percentage in the series so far is .888, but not all of that can be attributed to him. The defensive core in front of him is less than ideal, but that is the Rangers mantra. They need Lundqvist to bail them out, which is something he did not do in Game 2.

In terms of the other teams, this is not to say that they do not have a chance to come back in the series. Each team is in the second round for a reason.

Anaheim is a rigid, experienced team that needs to take advantage of that fact against Edmonton. But, Connor McDavid and Cam Talbot are unbelievable players capable of turning a series in an instant (which they have done already). 

St. Louis is in the same category as Anaheim to a sense, but Nashville is playing great right now. The series against the Blues has not come as easy as the series against Chicago did, but it is hard to bet against the Predators currently. They are using their fast paced tactics to their advantage perfectly. 

Lastly, Washington has fallen into a deep hole with Pittsburgh once again. It’s hard to go against the Penguins right now given Washington’s history in the second round and against Pittsburgh in general. If they can overcome this challenge, it’s hard to argue against the fact that they will win the Cup. But it’s one hurdle at a time for Alex Ovechkin at company. 

Of the teams down currently, who do you think has the best chance of moving on to the second round?

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

Looming expansion draft could force Bishop, Fleury trades

With the expansion draft slated to take place next offseason, a lot of general managers are fiddling with their rosters to assure they won’t lose anyone of value, particularly in goal. Each team is only allowed to protect one goalie, and although only three goalies will be selected at max, you certainly do not want to find yourself on the short end of the stick.  Read the rest of this entry

Five NHL questions you didn’t think you would have to ask at the Christmas break

The NHL started it’s Christmas break today. This year seems a bit odd for many reasons, from scoring to standings. Many things are not what anybody expected from this year’s league and there are a lot a questions to be asked. 

What’s wrong with the Pacific Division?

The Central Division has held the title of “toughest division” for the past couple of years, with little disparity between first and last place. However, the Pacific Division was always considered to be the second strongest division out there, beating out the “weaker” Eastern Conference. That is not the case this year. Six of the seven teams have more losses (including overtime losses) than wins. The Kings have control of the division by six points. This is also strange because the Sharks, Coyotes and Oilers are all doing better than they did last year. There’s still time to turn it around and make those teams feared again, but the start of the season has indicated the opposite. 

Can the Anaheim Ducks and Ryan Getzlaf turn it around?

Going along with the Pacific Division topic, the Ducks are currently sitting last in that division and second to last in the league, although they do have some games in hand. Last year’s Western Conference leaders have taken a significant drop off despite not making any major offseason moves outside of the Hagelin-for-Etem trade. Their captain Ryan Getzlaf has started cold and is continuing to be cold with one goal in 29 games, after scoring at least 25 in the two seasons prior. The Ducks are running out of time quick but may be saved by the poor play in their division. 

How about them Panthers? 

I had the Panthers as a bubble team this year, but so far they’ve blown away expectations. They are one point away from leading the Atlantic with a game in hand on Montreal. Jagr has continued his dominance, and the emergence of young players like Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov have fueled this team to make it to the top. The Panthers look to be in line to be players at the trade deadline this year. Radim Vrbata, anyone?

How will the Johansen situation solve itself? 

Ryan Johansen and Columbus seemed to be on pretty good terms last year, despite missing the playoffs and having a lengthy and stressful contract situation during the offseason. It’s all gone downhill now, however. His relationship with new coach John Tortorella is strained to say the very least and has come with multiple benching incidents and even a healthy scratch. Rumblings around the league have suggested that Johansen is being shopped to some aggressive degree. Whether or not Columbus is willing to move him while his value is at an all time low is the quandary. 

Can the Penguins correct themselves? 

The Penguins were labeled a frontrunner for the Metropolitan Division in July when they acquired Phil Kessel, despite having suspect defense. This issue, along with a lack of production from players including Sidney Crosby, has pushed the Penguins to five points out of a playoff spot as of the morning of December 23rd. They fired Mike Johnston and brought in Mike Sullivan, but can he fix the sinking ship that is the Penguins? 

Only time will tell how some of these stories play out, especially as we inch closer to the trade deadline. The league has gotten more and more competitive so as time goes on it’ll be tougher and tougher for teams like Pittsburgh and Anaheim to fix their issues and climb the standings. The midway point of the season is just around the corner, folks. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Penguins trade vet Rob Scuderi to Blackhawks for Trevor Daley

Midway through their game between the Capitals on Monday night, the Penguins announced that they had traded veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi in exchange for Trevor Daley from Chicago. Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, one-third of Scuderi’s salary was retained. 

Scuderi is on the third year of his four year deal and is about to turn 37 on December 30th. He sits at a 3.375 million cap hit without retained salary in mind. Daley, acquired in the Patrick Sharp trade, also has two years left but is at a 3.3 million cap hit. The highly explosive offensive defenseman has had a rough time adjusting in Chicago. 

Both players needed a change of scenery but whether it will work out remains to be seen. Chicago gets a declining veteran with another year on the books while Pittsburgh gets an offensive defenseman that will not help out improve play in their own end. 

Both players remain without a goal on the season. Daley will see more ice time in Pittsburgh after being shelved behind the likes of Keith, Seabrook, and Hjalmarsson. 

This was the first trade of the NHL season and addressed Jim Rutherford’s yearning for a change on the back end. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Trade Winds: Defensive Addition 

It’s hard to find a solid, NHL defenseman on the trade market before the deadline, let alone this early in the year. However, some options are there. Teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Carolina Hurricanes are looking for help on the blueline amongst others. None of the names available are flashy, but they can get the job done for any team desperate for help. 

The “biggest” name on the market as of today is Dennis Wideman. The 32 year old can still put up points with 56 last season and 6 assists in 12 games this season, but his contract is scaring other teams off. His teammate Kris Russell has also been linked to trade talks. Russell lead the league in blocked shots last year and is on good pace to do so this year again. Whether that’s indicative to Calgary’s play or Russell’s individual play, nobody will know unless a trade happens. 

Bob McKenzie also reported the other day that the services of Luke Schenn, Roman Polak, and Matt Carle are available for the right price. Schenn and Polak could be moved later in the year, but Carle is an interesting name. He’s been brutal this year for the Lightning but they are still a win-now team so the price could fluctuate for a guy like him. It’ll be interesting to see how his storyline progresses over the year. Carle has two season left on his contract after this year at 5.5 million per, which will significantly decrease his value if he doesn’t pick up his game. 

The Jets also have an abundance of defensemen. Dustin Byfuglien won’t be traded until later this year, but players such as Paul Potsma and Grant Clitsome (although he is currently hurt) may be in play. Clitsome is entering into the final year of his deal and Potsma has one year remaining after this season at a reasonable price. Neither player has seen any in game action this year which could scare some teams off. If it comes down to it, the risk would be worth taking because they don’t have the contractual issues some other options do. 

As the season progresses, we’ll get a clearer look at the standings to see who needs help and who doesn’t. Although it might not be for a defenseman, also keep an eye out for Anaheim and Ottawa to be exploring on the trade market soon. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Seguin and Crosby are Early Hart Trophy Favorites 

The Hart Trophy is handed out annually to the league’s most valuable player, and each year the decision seemingly gets harder and harder. The names like Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, Ryan Getzlaf, and Sidney Crosby have started to consistently find their way onto ballots, but this year, like last year with Carey Price, there could be some new names surfacing for nomination.  Read the rest of this entry

Winners and Losers of Day One of the 2015 NHL Draft

It was an exciting first day of the 2015 NHL Draft, one of the most exciting in years. It saw played such as Robin Lehner, Dougie Hamilton, and Milan Lucic traded before the draft even started, and a bunch of other deals during the draft. Some deals left us scratching our heads, but others were great and out of the blue for teams. Here are our winners and losers of day one. 
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Big Day: Winnik, Sekera, and Tlusty All Traded

Less than a week before the trade deadline, some pieces up for sale found their new and temporary homes. Wednesday afternoon, all in a matter of three hours of each other, Daniel Winnik, Andrej Sekera, and Jiri Tlusty were all traded. Tlusty heads out of Carolina and will joins the Jets, while Andrej Sekera also leaves Carolina and goes to Los Angeles. Daniel Winnik, one of Toronto’s bright spots this year, was traded to Pittsburgh.
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Penguins Acquire David Perron

Early Friday, the Penguins helped shore up their forward group, especially the top-6, when they acquired David Perron from the Oilers. Perron, 26, was taken 26th overall in 2007 by the Blues. He was sent to Edmonton for Magnus Paajarvi and a 2nd after the lockout shortened season, where he spent one and a half seasons.
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