Monday, July 31, 2006


I haven't seen anything saying if the Pens are accepting Ryan Malone's arbitration ruling. If they do, he's in the fold for two years. If they don't, he's immediately an unrestricted free agent.

I have to assume they accepted it on the spot, because I haven't seen anything written anywhere else.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fingold signs letter of intent to buy Penguins

Sam Fingold has signed a letter of intent to buy the Pens. This gives him 30 days of exclusive negotiating rights. My understanding is that if we get to the end of the 30 days, and the purchase isn't complete, it's because something has gone wrong. If all goes according to plan, then Mr. Fingold should be the new owner of the Penguins soon. The purchase price is believed to be around $175 million.

He has changed his stance on the location of the team. Previously, he was concerned with the ability to build a new arena here in Pittsburgh (evidentally he's familiar with our politicians), but he's changed that so it now seems that he wants the team to stay here in Pittsburgh. He is, however, closely tied with Kansas City, so if the city screws this one up, the team will be on it's way out.

For Pens fans, the biggest issue is how much of a payroll will the team be able to afford under the new management. I haven't read too much yet on the financial means of Mr. Fingold, but we can only hope that the Pens can move up closer to the league salary cap (as they're currently much closer to the league minimum than they are to the maximum).

At any rate, we may have a new ownership group in place by the time the season starts.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Russian Trade Agreement News

According to this article in the Trib, the NHL has set a deadline of Monday for the Russians to sign the transfer agreement that would allow Evgeni Malkin to join the Penguins painlessly.

Evidentally, the NHL has tired of the screwing around that has been going on. This deal was suppsoed to be completed by just after the Stanley Cup Finals, but never materialized. Evidentally, the main reason for that is that the member clubs in Russia are dragging their feet.

Obviously, this would make it more challenging to get Malkin over here, but certainly the article seems to indicate it can be done. That would be the wrong start to the season for the Pens, if they were to find out they had to go without Malkin.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ryan Malone arbitration decision

Ryan Malone was awarded a two-year deal valued at $2.75 million - $1.3 for this season and $1.45 for next season.

This is not so drastic in terms of salary, when compared with the $5 million that Briere and Gomez were awarded in recent days. Obviously, Malone is no Briere or Gomez, but his $1.3 for this season looks like a downright bargain compared to those two.

The Pens have 48 hours to decide whether to accept it or make Ryan an unrestricted free agent. If it were me, I'd accept it. It seems to fit in well with the salary structure on this team. It really will come down to how much Ray Shero likes Ryan Malone as a player.

What would you do?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mark Recchi returning to Pittsburgh

Accoring to TSN, Mark Recchi has signed a deal to return to Pittsburgh. As much as I'm not crazy about Recchi being back in the locker room, after all the rumors about him undermining Sidney Crosby, I have to admit that this does give the Pens the scoring winger they depserately need, and hopefully with a hometown discount. If he plays with the energy and hustle he did after Therrien became the coach last year, then he'll be a fine addition on the ice. Off the ice, well, let's just hope that the team is substantially different now (as it appears to be).

Penguins sign Ronald Petrovicky

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Ronald Petrovicky, 29, to a contract. No terms were disclosed.

Petrovicky is another winger who fits in the gritty style that Shero seems to like. He had 20 points last year (8 + 12), so he can chip in a bit offensively. He was second on the Thrashers in hits last year with 109 in 60 games.

According to the article I linked to on the Penguins website, we'll love his "blue collar style" (rough translation - he likes to hit people and skate fast). However, I particularly like this quote from Ronald:
"They want to make a new statement and bring young blood into the team and organization - to spark it up," he said. "I want us to be tough to play against - teams coming in have us on their minds a little bit. They won't be happy to play against us because we will be tough to play against and make them pay the price for the length of the hockey game."
In light of that last sentence, combined with the fact that he most recently played for the Thrashers, I'd like to make the following early request of Mr. Petrovicky: Please crush Ilya Kovalchuk. Make sure you point to him first, either right before the hit, or (preferrably) when he's in the penalty box, so he knows it is coming.

Taking a quick look at what Shero has done this offseason, it sure looks like he's building this team for Michel Therrien. Tough, hard-nosed players that play defense and like to hit fill the roster. Petrovicky is just another one of those guys, and he's not coming here to play in the minors - this is an accomplished NHL veteran. Should be fun to watch.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Pens sign D Matt Carkner

The Penguins signed defensemen Matt Carkner, formerly of the San Jose Sharks organization, to a one year deal at or near the minimum ($450,000). Carkner has only played one game at the NHL level (it was last season), but has had some success in the minors.

I'd guess this is someone that Shero believes could stretch beyond his current boundaries. He's not that old yet either - just 25. He has size (6'4") and toughness (over 200 penalty minutes last season in the minors) but also put up some points last year for the Cleveland Barons (10 + 21). If he can play his way onto the roster, then great. Otherwise, he'll provide some depth and eat up some minutes in Wilkes-Barre, where their roster is still kind of sparse. I hope he can play on the top level, but it's not usually a good sign when someone is the career leader in games played for an AHL franchise - it means he's been there for awhile.

Pens re-sign Brooks Orpik

The Penguins re-signed Brooks Orpik to a two year deal today. Terms were not disclosed.

I was really impressed when I looked at the article on TSN about the signing - I didn't realize Orpik had decent numbers last year (this was one of those things were you step back and say "wow!"...).

In only 64 games, Orpik averaged over three hits per game, and just under two blocked shots per game, leading the team in both categories. He also drastically improved his +/- (from -36 his rookie year to -3 last year) on a team that wasn't much better than the prior season.

I'm looking forward to seeing how he progresses this year.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Pens sign Wade Skolney

The Penguins signed Wade Skolney today. He had played in the AHL for the Flyers farm team, the Phantoms. He's a defensemen.

This can only be for depth at the AHL level, or as an Eric Cairns replacement. Anyone can play 2-3 minutes per night on the blue line, I suppose. This guy, in 56 games last year, took 197 minutes in penalties!!! Of course, that still pales in comparison to this guy.

Colby Armstrong signs deal

Colby Armstrong signed a one year deal with the Pens today. This was really only a formality, but it's great that Colby is solidly in the fold. I expect he'll play a big part on the team this season, especially since he seems to have that mental link with Crosby going.

Pens acquire Nils Ekman and Patrick Ehelechner

The Pens traded another draft pick in 2007 yesterday, this time to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for winger Nils Ekman and goalie Patrick Ehelechner.

First off, Ehelechner is just a prospect, and will either stay in Germany, or play for Wilkes-Barre.

Now, more intriguing, Ekman played last year on a line with Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo. Nils recorded 57 points (21 + 36) and very responsible defensively. Sounds to me like someone that can play with either Crosby or Malkin. He's 30 and has average size.

I'm liking more and more the moves that Shero is making. The acquisition of Ekman, coupled with the prior trade for Moore, is making me think that this guy really knows what he's doing (or, at least has a very well defined sense of what he wants to do).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Arbitration Hearings Set

Accoring to the Post-Gazette, the arbitration hearings are set for Ryan Malone and Brooks Orpik.

Malone's hearing is Friday, July 21st, while Orpik will have his hearing on Monday, July 24th. Rulings will be announced 2-3 days after the hearings.

Malone is by far the more interesting case, given that he's still pretty far apart from the team in terms of salary, accoring to Shero. Given how he played the first half of last year, I'd be surprised if he is awarded anything huge. Half a season does not a superstar make, as Yoda might say.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pens acquire Dominic Moore and Libor Pivko

The Penguins have acquired Dominic Moore and Libor Pivko from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a third round draft pick in the 2007 NHL draft.

Pivko plays LW, so that is a good thing, though he's never played more than one game in the NHL (he appeared once in 03-04 for Nashville). He's 26, has size (he's listed at 6'3"), and is coming off of a season where he achieved a career high in points, with 70 (12 + 58). Previously, he'd never scored more than 31 in any season. He just came over to North America prior to the 03-04 season. I'd expect, given the Pens current dearth of wingers, that he'll get a shot in training camp.

Moore is slightly more intriguing. He played in all 82 games last year for the Rangers, and is another penalty killer that can chip in occasionally, notching 18 points last year (9 + 9). He plays center, however, so that can't bode well for a player like Maxime Talbot. He's also young (25), and has average size (6'0").

Overall, considering the Pens got both of these guys for next to nothing, I'd say it's a good deal for them. Moore will probably fill a grinder role and be a big part of the PK (Shero sure has been beefing up the PK, hasn't he?), and if they can get anything out of Pivko, then it's a double bonus.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Shane Endicott signs with Nashville

Shane Endicott has signed with Nashville. His salary was undisclosed, but can't be too much above the minimum. I'm disappointed that the Pens didn't keep Endicott, who seemed to have size and speed. He was hurt most of last year, so I would have liked to have seen what he could do without the injury plaguing him.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Colby Armstrong and Marc-Andre Fleury news

Though it's not really significant, Colby Armstrong and Marc-Andre Fleury have turned down their qualifying offers. The reason it's not really significant is that their rights are still owned by the Pens, and the players have elected not to file for arbitration.

My understanding of this is somewhat limited, but I think it's just a way for the players to indicate that they'd like to be paid more. The players, while restricted, are pretty much at the liberty of the teams that own their rights. They'll sign and be in camp, I'm sure.

Malone and Orpik both have elected arbitration and will have hearings later in the month.

Update - check out this article instead, which does a better job of explaining what it means when the players turn down the qualifying offer. This article is from the Trib, which I usually don't follow, but the Post-Gazette has been so completely lax in their coverage of many events, and even more sparse in terms of talking about potential free agents and whatnot... I may have to switch.

The most important thing I took from it is that Orpik is likely to sign, but that they're pretty far apart with Ryan Malone. Hopefully they can get things worked out with him.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Because it's Friday... CATS!!

Via YouTube... I love stupid cat video compilations - they make me laugh. Here's one of the better ones I've seen...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A closer look at the Penguins roster

This post also known as "how would you spend $8-10 million dollars?"

First, take a look at the latest Q&A from the Pen's website, by Bob Grove. Specifically, read the first question and answer.

Read it? Good. Let's take a look at what he's detailed.

Basically, the Pens have (or will have) about $22 million committed to 19 players. The roster size for the NHL club is 24. Let's look at the breakdown of players by position on the Penguins currently (these are players under contract, as well as restricted free agents, who are highly likely to sign contracts, plus Malkin):

C - Sidney Crosby
C - Evgeni Malkin
C - Maxime Talbot
C - Erik Christensen
W - John LeClair
W - Jarkko Ruutu
W - Colby Armstrong
W - Ryan Malone
W - Andre Roy
W - Michel Ouellet

Sergei Gonchar
Mark Eaton
Ryan Whitney
Josef Melichar
Eric Cairns
Rob Scuderi
Brooks Orpik

Marc Andre Fleury
Jocelyn Thibault

First, let's deal with the players that we know are in the picture, from Wilkes-Barre. The only major one I haven't mentioned it Noah Welch, who certainly seemed NHL ready in his brief time here last year. If Welch makes the club, expect it to be at the expense of another defensemen, as the Pens already have 7 on the roster. I wouldn't be surprised to see Cairns, Scuderi or even Melichar not be here next season. Gonchar, Whitney and Eaton are untouchable, and I think Orpik is their best physical presence on the blue line. As a quick footnote, remember that the Pens signed Micki Dupont. He'll likely have a chance to make the roster too.

Talbot, Christensen and Ouellet certainly aren't guarenteed to make the roster, but I'd say all have a good chance, especially given the shortage of players up front right now.

Another wild card in all of this is Jordan Staal. He could have a strong camp and make the team either as a center or a winger. If it's as a center, it would probably spell doom for Erik Christensen (which is a shame, as I really like Erik).

So, what we're looking at is that the Pens have 4-5 slots to fill, and about $7-8 million to do it with, as the Pens will likely open the season with a payroll around $30-31 million. They'll probably pick up (through varying means) another 3-4 forwards, probably wingers, and maybe a defensemen, depending on what they think of Welch.

Having said all of that, who is currently available to be signed? Grove mentions Anson Carter as a potential candidate. Here are some other unrestricted free agents that are still out there... (I'm focusing mainly on wingers):
  • Peter Bondra - too old?
  • Brad Isbister - used to have a scoring touch - he's big (6'4") and you could get him cheap
  • Mark Recchi - not sure I want to go back down that road again...
  • Eric Daze - can certainly score, but he was hurt all last year (back problems) and has yet to prove he can play in the new NHL (he's huge - 6'6")
  • Radek Dvorak - had one great season with the Rangers - after that... not so much
  • Valeri Bure - good scorer - much injured - would have something to prove
  • Jan Bullis - can chip in some goals here and there - not really a top two lines kind of guy
  • Viktor Kozlov
  • Martin Rucinsky - he's a bit older, and not really a prolific scorer
  • Petr Sykora - will score - will be paid well - probably the best of the bunch remaining
  • Oleg Kvasha - still relatively young - has scored sporadically - has size (6'5")

That's all I have tonight - more later in the week. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.

Penguins 2006-07 schedule released

The Penguins released their schedule for the 06-07 season yesterday. Here is a link to the entire schedule. Here is a Post-Gazette article highlighting what they think are the important points, and here is the writeup from the Penguins site.

Basic facts:
  • Eight games against each member of the Atlantic division (Islanders, Devils, Rangers and Flyers).
  • Four games against the other teams in the Eastern Conference.
  • 10 games against the West - Five at home against the Central division (Red Wings, Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, Blues and Predators) and five on the road against the Pacific (Ducks, Stars, Kings, Coyotes and Sharks)

Here are some quick thoughts on the schedule:
  • I like that they open with 6 of the first 8 at home, in direct contrast to what I remember last year.
  • I liked last year when the games against the West were all together in the schedule - this year they're sprinkled throughout the season.
  • The Pens open with a tough stretch out of the chute - Philly, Detroit, NY Rangers and Carolina. Welcome to the NHL, Mr Malkin!
  • 20 of the 41 home games are on weekend nights. Nice.

The regular season starts October 5th at home against Philly. Looking forward to it.

Let's go Pens!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sale of Penguins coming closer

According to this article in the Post-Gazette, the Penguins are close to being sold to one of four or five groups. There isn't much to be said about this, other than to say how nice it would be to have an ownership group that would be willing to spend up to the cap. I get the feeling that between Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Fleury (not to mention Whitney, Armstrong and a bunch of other guys), the Penguins are going to need some cash.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Andy Hilbert signs with Islanders

As ees was nice enough to point out in the comments, Andy Hilbert has signed with the New York Islanders. It's a one year deal, and I haven't found the financial terms yet. Given that the Pens could use guys on the wings that can score, he must be making a bunch more than the Pens were willing to give him. Here's a quote from Neil Smith, the new GM of the Isles:
"One of our goals is to provide opportunities to young players that our staff believes have potential and could be ready for a breakout," said Islanders Vice President and general manager Neil Smith. "We believe that Andy Hilbert is such a player."
Doesn't that sound exactly like what Shero has been saying? This one is kind of puzzling to me...

Pens sign Jarkko Ruutu

The Penguins signed Jarkko Ruutu away from the Vancouver Canucks today. Ruutu has played parts of 6 years in the NHL, mostly at forward, though he has played some defense. He's not much of a offensive threat (though he will get hot from time to time), but he's a fierce hitter and a great defensive winger. He'll fit in nicely on the third or fourth line. Ruutu played all 82 games last year, but only averaged about 12 minutes per game.

This guy has a reputation as a worker, and will give Michel Therrien the kind of guy he likes - one who gives 100% all the time, every night.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Pens sign Mark Eaton

The Pens have signed Mark Eaton, formerly of the Predators, to a two year contract. Eaton is 29 and has played over 300 games during six seasons. I don't know much about him, but he appears to be a defensive specialist, having lead the Predators in blocked shots and being a fixture on the penalty kill.

This is the guy that the Pens went after when Jay McKee became too expensive. He seems to be a steady presence on the blue line, which is exactly what the doctor ordered. He also doesn't take too many penalties, which can only help with the Pens.

It looks like the Pens are fairly well set on the blue line with the addition of Eaton. I have them with the following players:
  • Gonchar
  • Orpik
  • Whitney
  • Welch
  • Melichar
  • Scuderi
  • Eaton
  • Cairns
All of them are under contract, except for Orpik, who is a restricted free agent that you'd think they'll sign. I think we'll see at least one of those guys disappear before next season starts.

What do you think?