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State of the union thoughts

May 10, 2018, 6:03 PM ET [146 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Yesterday was locker room cleanout day for the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s been a while since it has not taken place in June. The players were understandably disappointed. Every player in that locker room believed they were good enough to win their third championship in a row and in a different year this group probably could have pulled that off. Things didn’t go their way in the small sample that is the playoffs. It happens to 15 teams every year.

There weren’t a lot of injury updates. Most teams that are eliminated share that information after they are eliminated or hoist the Stanley Cup. Mike Sullivan wasn’t sharing that information this year. Selfishly I like getting that information for context, but it wasn’t to be this year other than some generic pieces of information. Phil Kessel was battling through injuries throughout the year. Derick Brassard has a significant injury, but we don’t know what.

Jim Rutherford spoke about there being changes to next year’s roster which is not surprising because that happens to every team each year. His biggest reveal was that Daniel Sprong is expected to be a full-time member of the team (barring a trade). Personally, I still don’t know why he wasn’t given a look this year especially during the part of the season when the team shooting percentage was abysmal. Sprong’s inclusion probably doesn’t bode well for Conor Sheary who was great in 2016-17 and nowhere close to that level in 2017-18. Shopping Sheary is fine as long as you keep in mind you’ll probably get a better 2018-19 out of him and that for the cost it is still OK value.

Carl Hagelin may find himself on a one-way ticket out of town. He has one more year left on his deal at 4M. I think the team could find a taker because the term is only at one year. Let’s be honest, since HBK fizzled out he hasn’t been much of an offensive contributor. He has been a good possession player and was great on the penalty kill. Is that worth 4M? It’s a question the GM will have to answer. It is worth noting that Hagelin was a fourth liner at times in the playoffs each of the last two seasons (last year because of injury).

Bryan Rust is an RFA. I’m going to have to sit down and try to figure out what his value is. I’m confident the team and player can come to a fair deal probably in the ~3M per year range. Other RFA’s include Jamie Oleksiak, Tom Kuhnhackl, Riley Sheahan, and Dominik Simon. Thoughts on those players a different day.

Matt Hunwick, oof. What a brutal signing. For those talking about a buyout I don’t believe that is something the Penguins have done as an organization. Retain salary, yes. Buyout, probably not.

People ask Rutherford what his time table is as the GM of the Penguins and the answer to that question is pretty simple in my opinion. He’s done when the Penguins are not Stanley Cup contenders anymore. Pittsburgh doesn’t have a Jason Botterill waiting in the wings (don’t give me that Bill Guerin nonsense) so what is the point of stepping down now?

Plenty to talk about in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading!
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