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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Who the Hell are the New @penguins?

from +Pittsburgh Penguins 

This summer Jim Rutherford signed 25 contracts. Some were re-ups and some are new faces. So with the dramatic shake up of the Pens lineup, it's hard to look at all of them and assess them all. I'm going to try.

I took most of my "what they say" analysis from hockeysfuture.com because @ianaltenbaugh is awesome and smart and smart and awesome. I encourage you to check out his work, it's impeccable. 







Phil Kessel

@PKessel81

How we got him: (trade) Phil Kessel, Tyler Biggs, and defenseman Tim Erixon from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington, and a 2016 third-round draft pick.

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 6.8 million against cap for 7 years.

What they say: who cares? We got Kessel suckahs!

What I say: There is no doubt that Kessel will have an immediate impact playing on either top-two lines. I could show all kinds of fancy graphs or H.E.R.O. charts but the simple facts that stuck out are:

  • 1) he's played 446 consecutive games
  • 2) in the passed 4 NHL seasons, only Ovechkin, Perry, and Stamkos has scored more goals than him
  • 4) since his trade to the Leafs he has been the 15th best point producer in the NHL

Too many facts get in the way of the Toronto narrative of him being a fat, lazy, baby. A fat, lazy, baby couldn't beat Seguin in a skating compeition.





Eric Fehr

@ericfehr

How we got him: (free agency) from the Capitals

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 2 million against cap for 3 years.

What they say:

"Eric has a real nose for the net, a pure scorer. He's the guy who's most likely to score the 'big goal'. He plays well in traffic, skates well for his size. He's a very competitive guy and very well respected by his teammates."

What I say: What a good pick up by Good Ol' JR. The guy can play anywhere, kill penalties and has an over 50% faceoff success rate. Although he is busted up, there is a good chance he will be ready for the first part of the NHL season. It was reported that GMJR talked to Fehr's doctors before ultimately deciding to sign him. Fehr is a massively respected in the locker room and in the DC community. His game is tailor-made for the 3rd line role coupled with appropriate 3rd line money. He's also strangely good in outdoor games scoring the only two goals in the Winter Classic in 2011 defeating the Penguins.






Nick Bonino

@NickBonino

How we got him: (trade) Brandon Sutter and a 2016 third-round pick for Bonino, defenseman Adam Clendening, and a 2016 second-round pick

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 1.9 million against cap for 2 years.

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

Bonino is a talented playmaker, he has excellent vision, hockey sense, passing skills and imagination. His feet do not quite catch up to his hands and eyes, but his speed is adequate. Hampered by nagging injuries, Bonino could benefit immensely from an uninterrupted stretch with a well-defined role.

What I say: Bonino is going to be a not-so-hidden gem for the Penguins this year. When given a good chunk of ice time he put up 22 goals with the Ducks. His ability to play on the top line or grind out a bottom 6 role made him the key return in the trade that sent Ryan Kesler to the Ducks. I have no fucking clue why Canucks GM Jim Benning would trade Bonino for a more expensive and already tapped out on potential player in Sutter. Bonino has a very clear offensive upside and can easily drift into the top 6 once acclimated to the Penguins system.




Beau Bennett


How we got him: (RFA) re-signed for the 2015-16 season

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 800k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

Bennett is in the third season of his pro career in 2014-15 and has once again been hampered by the hard luck that has characterized the two previous seasons. A wrist injury prevented him from making his regular season debut until November and after skating in seven games he suffered a knee injury that again caused him to miss time. Bennett was also one of the Penguins players to contract the mumps. Despite the setbacks he has experienced early in his pro career Bennett's talent level and hockey instincts suggest he can be a consistent offensive force in the future.

What I say: Beau is getting the "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed" look from me. For years now, he has been penciled in the top 6 along Sid or Geno in every blog, message board, and notebook. Then, during the off-season, Beau breaks every mirror he sees and struts under every ladder after a black cat that walks in front of him. Bad luck is an understatement with Beau having been injured most every season. With him signing a one year deal, I can tell that management feels the same way. Bennett's stock is at an all-time low and no longer can be packaged in fantasy trade scenarios with a dragon's share or return. If he can stay healthy and squeak out a decent season, he will earn enough for another short-term low risk deal.




Ian Cole

@ICole28

How we got him: (RFA) re-signed for the 2015-16 season

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 2.1 million against cap for 3 years

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)


Cole is a puck moving, two-way defenseman that can play in all situations. He can carry the puck very well up the ice, makes a good outlet pass and isn't afraid to jump up into the offensive play. The solidly built blueliner has the physicality down low, plays big shutdown minutes and on both specialty team units. He has the potential to be a top four defenseman with offensive upside at the NHL level.

What I say: Ian Cole was a nice bright spot in the strange tail-end of the 2014-15 season. I don't believe in the "change of scenery" trades but in this case I can see where it's coming from. Coming from the Blues and behind in the depth chart to Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester, and Shattenkirk, Cole got lost in the shuffle in St. Louis after being drafted in the first round by them in 2007. Ian Cole played great in his 20 games with the Pens. His shots hit the net, he hit hard in the corners, and played the insane minutes at the end of the season when injuries kept the Pens from dressing all of their defensemen. Ian Cole will be a great reliable player this year with moderate offensive output. He will earn top 4 minutes and be one of the more reliable presences on the blue-line.




Brian Dumoulin

@Du24theboyz

How we got him: (RFA) re-signed for the 2015-16 season

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 800k against cap for 2 years

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

Dumoulin attended training camp with the Penguins before being assigned to Pittsburgh AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to start the 2014-15 season. Now in his third pro season, he was one of three AHL defensemen recalled in December when the Penguins were hit with a rash of injuries. He played in eight NHL games before being returned to the AHL. He is the second-leading scorer amongst defensemen for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and long-term Dumoulin projects as a capable defender capable of playing in all situations.

What I say: I am pretty hype to see Dumo play full-time minutes with the club. He has massive potential and unreal vision. GMJR is putting a lot of eggs in the Dumolin basket but I think its a safe bet. I don't see him playing much in WBS unless he has a weak camp. Beating Scuds for the 7th spot should be easy for him.




Adam Clendening

@Clenny5

How we got him: (trade) Brandon Sutter and a 2016 third-round pick for Bonino, defenseman Adam Clendening, and a 2016 second-round pick

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 761.25k against cap for 2 years

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

Clendening is an offensive defenseman blessed with superb puck-moving ability and on-ice vision. His excellent puck skills are one reason why many scouts are so high on Clendening. He can see plays develop and follows them quite well. He can also be found frequently jumping into plays too. Clendening's ability to move the puck and patience with it makes him an ideal quarterback on the power play. He makes very good decisions with the puck and distributes the puck very well. Clendening can also control the tempo of the game from the blue line. He is an excellent skater with good speed that can keep up with many of the faster opposing forwards. He also transitions quite well too. One area where Clendening will need to improve is keeping his feet moving more consistently. While he is known for his offensive prowess, Clendening is also solid defensively. He doesn't shy away from the physical side of the game and plays with a good deal of intensity. However, Clendening could stand to utilize his intensity and grit more to the benefit of his team. He possesses a very good shot and can get pucks to the net by taking quality chances.

What I say: I think Clendenning will surprise us all if he gets a shot with the NHL club. Being bounced around from Rockford, Chicago, Vancouver, and Utica has hindered his progress after an excellent 59 point effort in Rockford two seasons ago. He was considered the Canucks' top defensive prospect.




Tim Erixon


How we got him: (trade) Phil Kessel and Tyler Biggs and defenseman Tim Erixon from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington, and a 2016 third-round draft pick.

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 600k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

Erixon is a puck-moving defenseman who has the ability to work the point on the power play. He isn’t physical, but has decent stick work at both ends of the ice. He is a two-way defenseman with a gifted wrist shot.

What I say: At worst, Erixon is a nice plug to call up in case of injuries. Who knows with the Leafs' horrid asset management how Erixon will pan out for the Pens. Once waived by the Blackhawks he spent time with the Leafs making it his 4th team in six years. He's still young and would benefit from some time on the farm in WBS to maybe re-tool his game. If successful, he could possibly negotiate out of an RFA deal next year to see where he is.



Sergei Plotnikov


How we got him: (free agency) from the KHL

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 925k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from eliteprospects.com)

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)

What I say: Who the Hell is Sergei Plotnikov? (source ME)


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. 




Tyler Biggs

@Tyler_Biggs

How we got him: (trade) Phil Kessel, Tyler Biggs, and defenseman Tim Erixon from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington, and a 2016 third-round draft pick.

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 894k against cap for 1 year

What they say:  (from hockeysfuture.com)

Biggs is a monster on skates and moves well for a player of his size. A dominant player at times in junior hockey by playing down low in the offensive zone and on the cycle, he is still learning to play the game at the professional level. He is defensively sound and can be used as a penalty killing forward. He can be an intimidating figure but questions have surrounded his consistency. His lack of skating mobility is also a challenge at the higher levels.

What I say: Much in the vein of Erixon, the Penguins acquired another fallen Toronto angel in Biggs. Once lauded as a great prospect, the Leafs actually traded up to get him 22nd overall by giving up picks 30 and 39 in the draft. In typical Toronto fashion, Biggs was buried by the local media as a bust after he tore his Achilles tendon in his 2nd year in the minors. Shipped away in the Kessel deal, he is looking to start over in Pittsburgh. A solid healthy season will do him wonders in WBS. GMJR has been acquiring RFA deals with their 1 year contracts so there is plenty of leverage to make a real offer next season based on performance.




Dominik Simon


How we got him: (draft) Round 5, 137th Overall in 2015 NHL Draft

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 692k against cap for 3 years

What they say: He was drafted in the 5th Round in the 2015 NHL Draft.

What I say: Cool.




Niclas Andersen

@andersenniclas

How we got him: (free agent) SHL (Swedish Hockey League)

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 625k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

He is defensive minded that plays a really aggressive and physical. Andersén was considered to be among the top Swedish 88’s. Is very strong and pretty mobile as well. Plays the body when he has the chance to, but tends to take far too many holding and hooking penalties. Has looked decent at senior level, but gets sometimes overconfident in his passing game at junior level.

What I say: A 27 year old bronze medalist with leadership experience isn't a bad card to have up your sleeve. I see him as another WBS experiment. With a 2 way 1 year deal, who cares really? I'm certain Niclas' plan isn't to play in the AHL this year, so it doesn't hurt if he has a strong camp. The defensive logjam is getting competitive with the PTO signing of Gonchar so it will take a stellar effort to crack the NHL lineup.




David Warsofsky

@DaveWarsofsky5

How we got him: (UFA) from the Bruins

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 600k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

Warsofsky is a small but feisty offensive defenseman with excellent mobility, who’s able to push the pace with his skating and passing game. Smart and confident, he’s the kind of player who loves to attack and is even a threat short-handed. Despite his stature, he has a howitzer of a shot, but is more of a playmaker than a trigger man, spotting teammates in prime position and hitting them with soft, accurate passes. He’s been a leader and a big game player throughout his career. There are holes in his defensive game however, he naturally has a short stick which makes it harder for him to cover passing lanes and shooting angles, and he can get drawn out of position, chasing his man which is something the Bruins zone-defense system tries to prevent.

What I say: Warsfoksy is that guy who will shoot the puck all the time. He reminds me of a Niskanen (pre-scrooge mcduck cash) in the vein of him not being a technical offensive defenseman and not a stay-at-home guy. He is right in the middle with flashes of offensive talent with a decent shot. When he gets an opportunity he is going to put on the jets, but as far as commanding a powerplay he isn't your man. Much like the other prospects GMJR is signing he's under 25, and with defensemen, we all know there is a lot to be seen.






Kevin Porter

@kporter12

How we got him: (UFA) from the Red Wings

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 575k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

With a tremendous amount of ability and skill, Porter has continued to transform into one of the top two-way players in the nation. He’s a top-six forward in the collegiate level, who may be able to make an equal transition as a pro. He has good hands, great vision and a great flow to his game. He can find ways to score, but does a better job setting up his linemates. He is a confident player, makes good decisions and has a solid work ethic.

What I say: A Hobey Baker award winner, Porter is a former Rochester Americans captain who once put in 14 goals in 2010 with the 'Lanche. I really don't see him sniffing NHL time unless there are a rash of injuries to the main roster (which we all know is possible). Porter is a serviceable d-man with good NHL experience. He doesn't make many mistakes with the puck and plays real vanilla in any role.




Kael Mouillierat

@WetRatPack

How we got him: (UFA) from the Islanders

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 575k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from thehockeynews.com)

A resilient and hard worker, he has proven capable of putting up pretty good numbers at several lower levels. Also displays decent two-way ability. 

What I say: Hilarious name. On doing research, our friends a pensburgh.com summarized him really well and I don't think I can add anything in addition to this piece.HERE.




Bobby Farnham

@bobbyfarnham24

How we got him: (RFA) re-signed for the 2015-16 season

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 575k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

Farnham attended training camp with the Penguins before being returned to AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to start the 2014-15 season. Recalled in mid-season when Pittsburgh had a rash of injuries, he made his NHL debut in a December 13th game against Columbus and had a fight in his first game — the first of four majors he received in his 11-game stint with the Penguins before being returned to the AHL. Long-term Farnham's niche is that of a pesky energy player who will drop the gloves.

What I say: Media darling Farnham will be coming back for another season in the black and gold/yellow/Pittsburgh gold. The (futile) argument about the enforcer/energy role on a team can be debated every year, but someone like Farnham has value. I don't see him making the main roster this year with the insanely deep Penguins team but he can be used as the 13th forward on certain nights. Beyond his fists, Farnham is a very quick and fearless skater. I have no clue how he's avoided major injuries throughout his career. Bobby-Fa will give everything he has for the team, he will fight anyone, hit anyone, and chirp at anyone, which can't be ignored forever.




Reid McNeill


How we got him: (RFA) re-signed for the 2015-16 season

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 575k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

McNeill attended training camp with the Penguins before being assigned to AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 2013-14 season. Now in his third pro season, he has come a long way since spending most of his first season in the ECHL. Surrounded by offensively-inclined, play-making defenders, he is the top shut-down, stay-at-home defensive defenseman at the AHL level for the Penguins. He continues to skate against the opposition's top forwards and with his size has also been willing to stand up for teammates when needed. Yet to crack the lineup for Pittsburgh, his progress seems to suggest that that may happen sooner rather than later. Long-term his defensive play and ability to prevent opposing scoring chances will likely be his calling card at the NHL level.

What I say: McNeill was a guy who was soft-penciled in the NHL roster. Training with Gary Roberts and being a huge 6'4" 200+ pound human, he could be called upon if they need a physical presence on the blue line. A staple on the WBS PK, the leading hitter, and arguable the toughest hand outside of Farnham on the team, there will always be a place for McNeill (only 22 yrs old) on a team. The Penguins? Who knows.




Will O'Neill
@willoneill27

How we got him: (UFA) from the Jets

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 575k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com
O'Neill is a player whose production has always been more than his skill level would suggest. Panned coming out of prep school hockey for his skating ability and lack of physical strength, he succeeds through determination, hockey smarts and a fierce distaste for losing. The son of long-time Salem State coach Bill O'Neill, the younger O'Neill's strength is his understanding of the game and offensive instincts. He must fight to maintain his intensity without losing focus or taking careless penalties but is a natural team leader. While his intangibles have made him a successful player at the college level, he will need to continue to improve his skating and technical skills to have a shot at the next level.
As with most offense-first defenseman, O'Neill's defensive play is a work in progress. He takes the body when he has the opportunity, but struggles at times with gap control and in one-on-one play

What I say: our good friend Highland Park Hockey has written something up on O'Neill. He knows more about AHL hockey than I know about pizza. Read the article HERE.


Tom Kuhnhackl

@TKuhn14

How we got him: (RFA) re-signed for the 2015-16 season

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 575k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)
Kuhnhackl attended training camp with Pittsburgh before being assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to start the 2014-15 season. Playing for the Penguins AHL affiliate, he has seeing consistent ice time but his offensive production has been limited. The fact that he has established himself at the AHL level is a plus but his numbers are a concern. Kuhnhackl possesses the offensive pedigree to one day play in a top-six role at the NHL level but at this point him reaching that level is an uncertainty.

What I say: Kuhnhackl is a very versatile player much like Dupuis. Tom is an avid shot blocker who is used on the PP and PK often. Another young prospect who will probably play the entire season in WBS. It's not a terrible problem to have, and it gives Kuhn adequate time to turn into the player he wants and for the Penguins to learn what piece of the puzzle he is.




Steve Oleksy

@stevenolesky

How we got him: (UFA) from the Capitals

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 575k against cap for 1 year

What they say: Steve Oleksy punches people.

What I say: Former Hershey Bears captain and Capitals enforcer, Oleksy is a big nasty human who uses his fists to solve problems. He will provide leadership (and protection) to the young prospects on the team. How upset can you be with a guy like this on your roster? Plus he loves to dance!





Conor Sheary

@csheary13

How we got him: (RFA) re-signed for the 2015-16 season

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 575k against cap for 2 years

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

Sheary is a diminutive, but skilled forward who has been highly productive at both the NCAA and AHL levels. Despite being 5’9, he has a fairly thick build and is able to weave through traffic without taking too much punishment. He is an excellent puck-handler and can play multiple positions at forward. He also has good hands and seems to do a good job anticipating where the puck will go. Sheary will need to improve his skating, particularly his explosiveness, if he wants to be an effective top-nine forward in the NHL.

What I say: The 7th highest AHL Rookie scorer brought in from the Penguins last year and re-signed this year for 2 more. Sheary is one of the better Penguins offensive prospects as he's been compared to 2015 sensation Tyler Johnson from Tampa. He is small but he works unbelievably hard. He was a walk-on in AHL camp last year, was rewarded with a contract for the 2014-15 season, and popped in 20 goals in his first professional year. I really want to see where he goes this year, and I hope he earns some time in the NHL. If he produces at the same rate he did last year, I don't see how he can be ignored much longer. Here's hoping to a strong camp for Sheary.



Dominik Uher

@uhi92

How we got him: (RFA) re-signed for the 2015-16 season

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 575k against cap for 1 year

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

Uher attended training camp with Pittsburgh before being assigned to Penguins AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to start the 2013-14 season. Now in his third pro season, he is once again providing scrappiness and hard edge physical play while chipping in offensively. Rewarded with his first call-up in late December when the Penguins were hit by injuries, he appeared in his first two NHL games before being sent back down. Long-term, he has the potential to be an effective middle-line agitating forward.

What I say: Uher is an AHL grinder who can hit and shoot. It's tough to find anything interesting to say about him. It is a necessity to have on any team, a bottom 6 guy who is competent with the puck. He is a bit of an agitator who will occasionally back it up with a face pummeling.




Brian Foster


How we got him: (UFA) from Lillehammer IK in the Norwegian GET-ligaen

How much: (source generalfanager.com)

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)

Foster plays  with consistency in the net and stays calm in pressure situations. Foster is a strong "first-save" goalie and often comes up big on defensive breakdowns. He has improved his rebound control during the early part of his career. He needs to improve on his positioning and lateral quickness but his skills and instincts are sound.

What I say: He's a replacement for Eric Harzel who was not offered a contract this year after becoming an RFA. With Matt Murray being the bonafide G and certified stud he is, Foster may back him up in Wilkes-Barre this year. The End.


Matt Cullen

How we got him: (UFA) from the Predators

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 800k against cap for 1 year

What I say: Good depth signing for the Penguins. A center with tons of NHL experience. He won a CUP in 2006 with Jim Rutherford's Hurricanes. He's always been a 3/4th line center putting up 15-20 goals in his career. Last year he was 54% on the faceoff circle, and spends most of his time on the PK. No strong feelings on this one since he is destined for a limited bottom 6 role.



Sergei Gonchar


How we got him: PTO from the Canadiens

How much: (source generalfanager.com) none

What they say: He old! OLD! OOOOOld! Boo the old man! Boo!

What I say:  Nothing safer than a PTO contract for the Penguins legend. I loved Gonchar, I love Gonchar, and will forever love Gonchar. The legitimate question of him being able to contribute to the new sexy Penguins team is up in the air. Since leaving the Penguins, he's only played 63% of the games available and in those 310 games he's put up only 127 points (.4 points per game). My prediction is that the Penguins offer him a desk job after camp possibly helping the young crop of d-men this year and bowling with Geno and Plotnikov on the weekends.



Tom Sestito


How we got him: PTO from the Canucks

How much: (source generalfanager.com) none

What they say: He's a fighter. Boo! I hate fighting! Corsi! Boo the fighter!

What I say:  Much like the Daniel Carcillo PTO signing last year, it means nothing. Sestito skates with Pens at camp and if he impresses he scores a league min contract and skates around for 3 minutes or he goes back to punching trees in his backyard.

Fun Fact; Sestito once earned 27 PIM in one second in a game vs. the Kings where he mercilessly pounded Jordan Nolan into oblivion for hitting one of Sedins (I can't tell them apart).

Daniel Sprong

@sprong97@sprong97

How we got him: drafted 2nd (46th) round in the 2015 NHL Draft

How much: (source generalfanager.com) 692,500k for 3 years

What they say: (from hockeysfuture.com)
A strong, imposing forward with quick feet, Sprong oozes offensive ability. His stickhandling and puck skills were amongst the best in the 2015 NHL Draft, but his defensive game has quite a few lapses in terms of defensive zone positioning and losing track of his man. A lot of those defensive deficiencies can be masked at the junior level, however, when you own a shot like Sprong does. Make no mistake, if he is to become a full-time NHL player, it will be in a top-six offensive role.

What I say: Nothing too shocking about signing your top draftee to an ELC deal. I wish him well. 

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