It was stated by Jim Rutherford the Penguins wouldn’t be big players on the free agency market when it opened up and he stayed true to his word. To this point Mark Jankowski and Evan Rodrigues have been the only additions and they both came very cheap. Jim Rutherford also said he would look for values after the initial signing frenzy. Are the Penguins still in a position to do that?
As of this moment the Penguins have 2.58M in cap space. It isn’t a lot to work with, but it might be enough to fill out the roster with some more capable depth player(s). This has been a buyer’s market and I think there are a few options the Penguins could look at to shore up some vacancies. Rutherford talked about wanting a right handed defenseman and I think there is one on the market he can get while being cost effective and on-ice effective, something that doesn’t always happen with him and depth defensemen.
Koekkoek is a former Tampa Bay Lightning prospect who wasn’t able to play on a regular basis with the big club because of Tampa being in a win now window and their reliance on veteran players at the position. He has recently played in Chicago where he played in 42 games, a career high. He is left-handed, but Daily Faceoff has him playing on the right side
Personal disclaimer: When looking through these player cards I have found the market value to be higher than what I personally perceive their value to be. I do like the other information.
I’m guessing for under 2M you could have both Koekoek and Chad Ruhwedel as a tandem who can split time on the right side. It would create healthy competition for ice time and given it is a bottom pairing role I don’t think Koekkoek would be overwhelmed by those minutes. He would of course have Kris Letang and John Marino playing ahead of him.
I don’t view Koekkoek as a difference maker by any stretch. Just an option to round out the depth at a price point that makes sense.
I am still perplexed by the Penguins and Sabres not finding a spot for Kahun in their lineup. Kahun was pretty good with Evgeni Malkin and he certainly wasn’t bad with the Sabres. Are there things we don’t know about behind the scenes? Maybe? If they were significant you think we’d hear more about them. Apparently, the Penguins didn’t like how he wasn’t willing to do certain things. I assume it was “battle” related or something along those lines. Players don’t have to fit what the coach wants perfectly. The coach should be the one who is amenable and figure out how to best use a player. Mike Sullivan has shown to be stubborn in this way.
For now this is a player you can get on a reasonable contract and add some much needed depth in the scoring department.
You could go back to Kahun-Malkin-Rust and then bump Zucker down with McCann to create a solid third line. It isn’t exactly the plan I had in mind when the offseason started, but when you look around at the options and the Penguins cap space does this really sound like a horrible idea? I’m not exactly clamoring for a McCann-Jankowski-Rodrigues third line, are you?
Yeah yeah yeah. I don’t want him on the first line either. That being said, if he keeps slipping through the cracks of free agency you could do a lot worse spending ~1M on a forward than Conor Sheary. He’s a capable depth player. If the injury bug hits he can move up the lineup for a short term promotion. He knows the team, the systems, and the coaching staff. If he sits out there for a while bringing him back is not a terrible thing if the plan is to use him as a depth player.
The former Maple Leaf then Canuck has been a useful bottom six player for a while. He is capable of providing some depth offense as his 19 points in 36 games last year showed. When you’re waiting out the market none of the players are going to be perfect, but some you can make a some investment to try and get some upside. I think Leivo could be one of those players
Thanks for reading!