Today’s blog is a mailbag, but there was one thing of note I’m going to very quickly talk about before we get to those questions.
Dominik Simon signed a one-year deal for 700k with the Calgary Flames. Perhaps Simon thought he could get more on the open market than he did. Perhaps he didn’t want to sign back with the Penguins. I do know that he provides decent value for many teams, including the Penguins, at only 700k. He can’t score goals worth a damn, but he does contribute in other positive ways. I would rather have a Dominik Simon on the fourth line than defensive specialists with literally no offensive upside.
To the questions
Is there a way to create a good 3rd line with this roster without completely sandbagging the Top 6?
If you had a Dominik Simon or a Conor Sheary you would have a better chance. Neither of those two players are ideal for a top six role. They would just blend in. I would not want to have to play either of those two in a top six role in order to prop up a third line. Neither of those two play for the Penguins so it isn’t an option anyways. However, that would have been the best path to do what you are asking.
Perhaps if Patric Hornqvist was still on the roster you could figure it out by putting Kapanen on the third line, but by trading away Hornqvist you are already using a top six tweener like Kapanen to be a placeholder in the top six.
The only path I see is to bump Jared McCann up to a top six winger role and bump down Jason Zucker to the third line. Is that really something we want to see? The biggest failure of the offseason was not filling out the forward depth. As a result we are looking at a top heavy team. The same build that got the last GM fired. Speaking of which
do you think Rutherford leaves on his own terms or does he get fired before the end of his contract?
I do not believe he will ever be fired. By all accounts the ownership has full confidence in Rutherford. If he is ever fired it won’t be in the traditional sense. He will fail upwards into a newly created position disguised as a promotion. As of right now they don’t even have a clear successor in mind teams like Vegas (Kelly McCrimmon) and Tampa Bay had (Julien Brisebois).
with the current roster makeup, both NHL and "in the system" what would be your ideal lines and pairings to start the season?
So I don’t really think the Penguins are in danger of losing anything of substance in the expansion draft. The 7 forward, 3 defense, 1 goalie approach will be just fine for them.
Prospects are not eligible to be selected so that will be a non-issue
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Jason Zucker, Kasperi Kapanen, Jared McCann?
Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, John Marino
Sure ,you have a player like Marcus Pettersson exposed, but let’s be honest, he isn’t irreplaceable. It would be an inconvenience, but not something overly difficult to replace at a 4.1M cap hit. I’m not concerned at all about the expansion draft.
EDIT: John Marino doesn't even have to be protected so the Penguins are in great shape heading into the expansion draft.
what's your go-to move in the shootout/breakaway? or is it "triple deke, glove side?"
I love this question. Back in the day it would be the same move Mario Lemieux scored on the Flyers in 1997 in the playoffs before his retirement. A quick forehand, backhand, forehand, five-hole shot. Over the years I’ve found this one hasn’t aged well. The advances in goalie technique and goalie equipment make going five-hole incredibly more difficult so I’ve had to retire that one.
I’m right-handed so the current go to move starts by coming in at an angle from left to right. It involves selling a shot high glove while you still have room between yourself and the goalie, the spacing is important and hard to do sometimes. The fake shot high glove involves your right shoulder dropping to mimic the shot along with the left skate coming off the ice to further sell the shot. At the same time I am picking up my blade over the puck to start a backhand toe drag. You drag the puck to the backhand wide. The key is to quickly go back to the forehand while the goalie is still leaning on that glove side from the fake shot. This gives the goalie a sense of false security because they think they have patiently waited out the move. They think they are good again. Then you bring it right back to the backhand and go top shelf. You are basically freezing the goalie both physically and mentally on the glove side and it allows the backhand to be pretty wide open.
The angle you take and the amount of space you give yourself is important. The goalie has to be at the top of his crease or higher for this to make sense. The best part about this move is if the goalie is on the goal line you can just forego the fake shot glove side and just shoot the puck off the crossbar right over their elbow because that is what they are giving you. Read the goalie and go with one or the other. I have found good success with modern goalies with this approach.
Are the penguins going to trade a defenseman? If not why do we have so many?
Trades are always on the table with Rutherford. As of right now they are cap compliant and with the number of back to back games in the hypothetical 2020-21 season I can see him being content with the depth for now. Unless they are moving Matheson I don’t see them moving the cheaper contracts like Riikola or Ruhwedel. I don’t think they’d have much interest in trading Cody Ceci, you don’t sign him unless you like him. Then again, Rutherford has traded a million players within a year of acquisition. I suppose none of us know what the heck will happen.
If Sid, Geno, Letang or anyone else you feel like doing had their own song before a shootout what would you think they’d be?
I can’t imagine it will be over 20 minutes like it has the past four seasons. It better not be! The only way it gets that high is if Letang or Marino misses time. If everybody is healthy it should be around 16 minutes give or take depending on how much PK time the team has on any given night.
Assuming (and hoping) Cody Ceci is the 7th D man. How do you feel about the current roster compared to the end of 2019? 2020?
I think the Penguins are just as close to winning the Stanley Cup this year as they were last year. Other teams are getting better and the Penguins are in neutral or slightly going backwards. The choices to spend heavy on fringe depth players has negatively impacted the team’s ability to take advantage of a great buyer’s market. I think it was a great missed opportunity.
Also Cody Ceci will not be the 7th defenseman, he’ll be on that bottom pairing.
What is your projection for the Sabres next season?
They will be better. They will be more fun to watch. They will still… miss the playoffs. They are in the wrong division. Tampa Bay, Boston, and Toronto are heavy favorites to steal the top three spots and then you have to get over the hump on Montreal (great xGF% team) and Florida (who knows). This also assumes the Atlantic Division is sending four playoff teams because it isn’t out of the question for the Metropolitan to send five. I don’t think that is likely, but possible.
Just think of all the cool draft picks the Sabres can waste after trading Taylor Hall away
Do you think Instead of singing E Rod and Jankowski we would have been better to target a duo like Kahun and M Granlund?
My answer is yes, but at the same time I’m not sure Granlund would fit the current budget. Also, not really sure Dominik Kahun would be interested in joining the team who traded him away for not being the right fit. So while I do agree the Granlund/Kahun duo would give the Penguins better results I’m not sure it is a realistic duo to use as an example.