With all the hype of the Kessel trade it's easy to forget about the signing of Sergei Plotnikov for a year and a manageable 925k cap hit. We all immediately penciled him in with Geno, and went back to analyzing Kessel's hot dog intake. Who is Plotnikov exactly, what kind of player is he, how many hot dogs does he eat during the season? Well, let's dig a little and see what we can find.
Upon singing with the Penguins, Plotnikov was eager to get to Pittsburgh and "get adjusted to the surroundings, the culture and work out.” as was reported by the Trib's Jason Mackey. This impressed managment which Rutherford was quoted. “Without us asking, he's already talking about getting over here early,” Rutherford said. “Some of the things he's done speak volumes of his character.”
He also footed the bill for his $500,000 KHL transfer fee to go to Pittsburgh. It's been said that Evgeni Malkin will help Plotnikov with the adjustment to the Yinzer culture and is fully supported by a Russian Support Group in Pittsburgh if needed.
Plotnikov cut his teeth in the KHL (Russia's top professional hockey league) where he put up modest numbers at a young age.
"A hard working winger with good game vision who plays an impressive physical game. He also has a good shot. Needs to improve his skating.
- Anton Vasyatin, EP (2015) - See more at: http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=17760#sthash.jGQgEGue.dpuf"
He won a Gold Medal in the 2014 IIHF World Championship with the Russian National team in which he also earned a selection on the media all-star team as one of 3 forwards. He finished that tournament third in scoring
Not bad huh? This was a team that included Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, and Tarasenko together on the same squad.
Hockeybuzz's Ryan Wilson found out why he chose the Penguins:
2. He likes the style of play that Mike Johnston utilizes
3. The team is in a win now mode
4. He liked using the Penguins while playing PlayStation
I think that's fair.
What I think:
1) What Plotnikov brings to the table is a valid threat on the wing with Malkin. He will play with snarl but not take himself out of the play to hit or chase guys to battle. He is a large power forward who works hard and is difficult to take off his feet. In the past, he has shown amazing chemistry with Malkin and Ovechkin respectively at the World Championships.
2) The character and drive he has shown in the small sample size interacting the media has really stuck out. Paying his $500,000 to go to the NHL is a prime example of a young man chasing his dream who is looking for an opportunity.
3) It's a low-risk signing. Having Plotnikov sign a 1 year entry level deal for the max 925k leaves the Penguins totally open to all options in the 2016-17 season.
4) There will be an adjustment period for Sergei and no amount of training can prepare him for the grind and speed of an NHL season. I can predict a conservative season with modest playing time on the second/third line where he will put up 30-35 points.