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Answers to all your Penguins questions

July 8, 2018, 8:24 PM ET [101 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Question time

I enjoy watching my kids play the Switch. Ninetendo’s games are always awesome and fun to play. Mario Tennis is a great sports game. I enjoy playing the one on one online matches that rotate through the different courts. I’m hoping that make a few more sports with the Mario characters, namely golf and hockey. I beat Mario Odyssey months ago, but it is an outrageously good game. Breath of the Wild is my favorite so far. It’s a perfect game. Lately I’ve been playing Fortnite with my daughter. My best achievement so far is placing first in a solo match while navigating the task of changing a dirty diaper. Take that you middle school dweebs.

The Switch is one of the systems I’ve ever owned and I’ve had quite a number of them (Atari, Nintendo, SNES, N64, PS1, PS2, PS3)

I do not think Jason Botterill was the mastermind of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I believe given the amount of years Botterill was in the organization and his job title he was one of few people that was able to reign Jim Rutherford in if needed. The way he ran WB/S and the number of players that became contributors from the AHL was something that could not be ignored. You also have to remember that the Penguins could have had a second round pick instead of Nick Spaling. Botterill said the Spaling contract would push the Penguins too close to the cap. Pittsburgh ended up icing only five defensemen at the end of the year because of that egregious faux pas. After that egg on the face moment I’m sure Botterill’s opinion was valued a little bit more. Make no mistake, Jim Rutherford isn’t going to do anything he doesn’t want to do, but nowadays I don’t think there’s anybody with enough pull to get him to perhaps re-evaluate certain decisions. The past two offseasons have been crap so far.

As for the 2014-15 season you need to look no further than the number of injuries on defense heading into the playoffs. There was no Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, or Christian Ehrhoff. That left the team with Taylor Chorney, Ben Lovejoy, Rob Scuderi, Brian Dumoulin (only 8 regular season games that year), Ian Cole, and Paul Martin. That season was not an on-ice catastrophe like the beginning of 2015-16 was. Their score-adjusted Corsi was third best in the regular season in 2014-15.

I don’t think the Penguins are done. I also don’t have a good feel on what they want to do. I don’t see a situation where the team would be better off trading a 3M Derick Brassard cap hit away. He seems like one of the obvious candidates to trade away. I suppose Carl Hagelin could find his way out in a trade, but I think he is more of a neutral trade piece where he is thrown in to make money work, not the player driving value in the trade like Brassard would.

As of this moment I think he would be a fourth line winger that perhaps takes some defensive zone draws. There seems to be a lot of talk about Derick Brassard and the potential of him being traded so if that were to happen then Cullen would be your fourth line center. An injury to Crosby or Malkin would have Riley Sheahan as the second line center and Matt Cullen as the third line center. Not ideal.

Perhaps Anthony Duclair thought that his opportunity for ice time was better in Columbus, but there are still other players other than Cullen the team could have thought about. Benoit Pouliot comes to mind.

Rutherford certainly gets a lot of credit for the Scuderi trade. That was an inherited problem that wasn’t his doing. Trevor Daley played his best hockey in years during the second half of the 2015-16 while Rob Scuderi never played another quality NHL minute. The other stuff were self-inflicted wounds that I’m not giving any credit for. There was plenty of evidence that neither player was going to be good. Hunwick’s salary cost the Penguins Conor Sheary who was a solid depth player. That is a net loss. As for Jack Johnson nobody was competing with the Penguins on money or term for Jack Johnson. They negotiated against themselves for no reason.

They are still competitive. The Washington series could have gone either way this postseason. The Metropolitan Division hasn’t really changed all that much as far as true contenders go. Tampa Bay and Toronto are going to pose a problem, but it’s likely the Penguins won’t see them until the Eastern Conference Finals.

The problem with sheltering Jack Johnson is that he isn’t the only guy that needs that treatment on the Penguins back end. Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin can handle being thrown to the wolves. The other four guys probably need a little help at times. The fact we are talking about a 31 year old free agent that was signed a week ago to a five-year deal and how he needs to be sheltered is so asinine. The only thing worse would be thinking he doesn’t need to be sheltered and you play him top four minutes. That won’t end well. Stupid stupid stupid.

Less than there should be. You still have teams like Vancouver and Detroit who keep signing veterans to try and fight for the last playoff spot that they will never get. The way the NHL is constructed the only way you are going to get star players without emptying the asset cupboard is to draft them. The only way to increase your probability of getting one of those players is to lose. It’s a broken system, but you still have to try and game it. There are a lot of teams in that terrible middle ground.

I don’t see another signing unless you count Jamie Oleksiak. I think you’re going to see other moves coming via trade.

It’s hard to separate them because of Matt Hunwick. It was a reach as a signing last year and didn’t work out on the ice. That issue bled into this offseason when the Penguins lost Sheary because of that contract. Using the space on Jack Johnson immediately was a real let down. Both this summer and last summer consist of a lot of avoidable errors. Not a good look.

Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not sure there are too many players in the league that play the winger position that wouldn’t want to play on Malkin’s wing. He is as good as they come with creating for other players. His micro-stats are off the charts. He’s amazing.

I think the transition starts when they retire or leave the team. There’s no way the team is going to do a rebuild while those two are on the roster whether it makes sense or not. As far as the mid-tier players that will be along for the ride, I have no idea. Those are the players that you have the flexibility to move. It’s impossible to know who those players are going to be that far down the road.

I knew the answer to that the second the signing was made official. I can’t wait for the “I told you so” people to clog up my notifications on Twitter when Jack Johnson scores a goal or makes a good play. Terrible players make good plays. They just aren’t frequent. It doesn’t change the overall value of the player. Rob Scuderi scored a few goals, too. Craig Adams would get a few points. That didn’t make either of them good. It should be fun, lots of fun. Maybe even as much fun as the Fleury discussions.

I think the starting point is going to be in the 5.5M range assuming he comes close to 50 points again. He’s going to have the playoff tax due to his stretch of playoff goal scoring. If you look around the league and what players are getting it would be tough to think it would come much cheaper than that.

Definitely Brassard, but don’t rule out Maatta once the season starts if Rutherford goes all in with Jack Johnson being a top four defenseman.

Thanks for reading!
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