Sam Werner's Penguins chat: 7.20.17
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Sam Werner
12:59
Hey gang, welcome to my first(!) Penguins chat, and of course it's in the depths of the offseason. We'll get rolling in a few minutes, but we've already got some questions piled up in the queue. So feel free to leave them there.
Reston
1:03
Hey Sam, Do you see the Pens getting extensions done this summer for any of the players that will be UFAs after next year?  Specifically Horny and Cole.
Sam Werner
1:08
That's an interesting question, but I'd be surprised to see either of those guys get extensions this summer, for a couple of different reasons. In Hornqvist's case, he's going to turn 31 this season and makes $4.25 million this season. He's likely due for one more long-ish contract in his career and is probably going to be worth much more to another team next offseason than he is to the Penguins, especially given their abundance of young wingers (admittedly, none quite like Hornqvist, but who is?). Cole is a bit more interesting, considering he's only 28, but after this past season especially, he probably sees a pretty hefty raise in his future next offseason, and he's not wrong. Cole's a guy the Penguins would like to keep around but, much like their UFAs this season, it might be tough considering how much playing on the Penguins tends to inflate a guy's value.
Dean
1:11
I was hoping the Pens would have signed Dominic Moore to fill the position that Nick Bonino had vacated. They play similar in style. But it is what is. Do you see the Pens signing a free agent center to fill that position ?
Sam Werner
1:14
Unless the Penguins find the third-line center version of Sidd Finch stashed away somewhere in Tibet, I don't see any free agents left out there that fit the bill. It'll have to be a trade.
1:15
Moore would've been a bit interesting (and certainly affordable) but the Penguins are probably looking for a bit more offense out of that spot. That guy is probably going to have to play with Phil pretty often, and, as we've all seen, the Penguins are at their best when they're getting at least semi-reliable offense from the third line.
Steven
1:17
I assume not, but any tip offs to who the guys the Penguins have on their list for wanting to be a 3C? Would it be any of the Vegas Cs?

Furthermore, with waiver eligibility and the Penguins tendency not to waive those guys on one-way contracts, who is the most likely candidate to be moved off the current roster to acquire the 3C in question?
Sam Werner
1:25
Yeah, we've really hit the dead period of the NHL offseason. Something theoretically could happen any day, and Jim Rutherford will certainly keep his phone turned on, but I also wouldn't be surprised if the 3C trade wasn't actually made until September. As Rutherford said at the draft, they don't have to field a team until Oct. 4. The hot name now seems like Tyler Bozak from the Maple Leafs, but the issue there is he makes $4.2 million next year, more than double the $2 million Jim Rutherford has allotted for this position. Some of that could be offset by trading away some salary in the deal, but that would be tight. As for who leaves the roster, that depends on who they trade away in the deal.
Andy
1:25
Any chance the team is going to sign Dumoulin to at least a three-year contract in advance of arbitration?  I can't believe he would be asking for more than $3-4 million range.  Seems like there's a possibility for a mutual agreement.  I think he's been solid and they could buy a couple UFA years by offering more a la Schultz.  You see any chance of this settling short of arbitration?
Sam Werner
1:30
Jim Rutherford seems pretty sure that this is actually going to go to arbitration, which is a bit surprising, given how rarely that actually happens. That could also be some public posturing on Rutherford's part, but I also do get why this could be a bit of a contentious negotiation. From Dumoulin's point of view, he effectively played top-pairing minutes for the Penguins during this Stanley Cup run and was arguably their best defensive defenseman. He knows he's not going to get Schultz money, but if Olli Maatta is making just over $4 mil, why shouldn't he? From the Penguins' point of view, well, Dumoulin just doesn't contribute any offense. The Penguins are probably looking at something more in the $3 million range. From the team's point of view, if you want to crack into that $4 million range, you have to give *something* offensively, which Dumoulin really doesn't. I doubt the two sides are all THAT far apart, but both have pretty good cases for what they want.
Andy
1:31
Do you think the wait on signing a 3C has any bearing on the Duchene trade talks?  By that I mean either the Pens are still trying to get him or they are waiting on another team who might have a 3C to trade if that team can land Duchene.
Sam Werner
1:32
That could certainly be part of it. As I said earlier, everything in the NHL is sort of in a freeze right now. There are a lot of shoes still yet to drop when the teams pick business back up in August/September, and Jim Rutherford knows that. He doesn't feel any pressure to make a deal right now, and I think he feels the market will overall be a little friendlier in a few months.
HB
1:32
Congrats on the chat Sam you deserve it!
Sam Werner
1:33
Thanks HB! Congrats on the question!
Richard--PSU
1:33
Why the Kessel talk--no way we replace his production even at the same price. Do u c him here in Oct?
Sam Werner
1:38
I don't think Phil Kessel is going anywhere this offseason. He's certainly not in the "untouchable" category that Crosby, Malkin and Letang are in, but if you look at it strictly from an analytical perspective, it's hard to find a situation where trading him makes the Penguins better. The Penguins' sole objective right now is winning as many Cups as they can during the Crosby/Malkin window. If Jim Rutherford had a trade involving Kessel that furthered that goal, I think he'd make it. But I don't think it exists. Kessel has a big cap hit, and the Penguins would likely have to retain some salary in any deal for him. That would hamstring a team already perennially up against the cap, and it's hard to envision what the return would be that would make it worth it. I don't think Kessel will finish his career in Pittsburgh, necessarily, but for as enigmatic as he may be, it's hard to find a realistic scenario where trading him away makes the Penguins better right now.
HB
1:39
will rick tocchet miss the penguins more or will the penguins miss tocchet more?
Sam Werner
1:39
[googles Arizona Coyotes roster]
Umm yeah I think Tocchet is going to miss the Penguins more.
KJ
1:39
Hello. Still looks like Dumo & Sheary are headed for arbitration hearings?
Sam Werner
1:42
Certainly seems that way. Since I hit on Dumoulin earlier, let's talk Sheary. It's another case where you can sort of see it from both sides. Sheary scored 23 goals this season, and was a fixture on Sidney Crosby's line for most of the year.....but then the playoffs happened. Sheary was a healthy scratch in the postseason, and seemingly got Wally Pipp-ed by Jake Guentzel as Sid's new winger. So the question going into this extension is what are you paying for? Is Sheary a top-line guy who can score 25-30 goals playing with Crosby or was his goal-scoring a product of playing with the best player in the world and he's just as likely to play on the fourth line next year as the first
1:43
Both arguments are valid, and that's why this thing might actually go to arbitration. In Sheary's case, I think the jury is still legitimately out on what type of NHLer he's going to be.
HB
1:44
I think the Penguins should try and get bozak because he has chemistry with Phil and I think it's important to have Crosby malkin and Phil on 3 different lines
Sam Werner
1:45
I think that's part of the reason this 3C search is a bit more complicated. I think you'll still see the Malkin/Kessel pairing at times next season, but it's pretty undeniable that there will be plenty of times when Kessel does play on the third line. So you need to find a guy with enough offensive skills to make that pairing work.
Andy
1:45
Are the Pens willing to move Maatta in a trade, and if so, what would they do to replace him?
Sam Werner
1:48
Yeah, I don't think Maatta is untouchable, by any means. Finding a deal that works with his contract is a bit more complicated. As far as potential replacements go, that could come through a trade or free agency. In house, though, I'm interested to see in training camp how close a guy like Ethan Prow comes to making the big-league club. The Penguins aren't overflowing with NHL-ready defense prospects (see this year's draft class as evidence) but there are a couple of intriguing guys. Prow and Derrick Pouliot (I know, I know, but I have to list him), to name a couple. Lukas Bengtsson had a tough year last year, dealing with Lyme disease, but he's a guy who could eventually make an impact, as well, if he comes back from it.
Jon
1:48
Hey Sam, thanks for doing the chat. What are your thoughts on ZAR and Sprong for next year? Where do you see them fitting in line wise if they make the big boy squad?
Sam Werner
1:51
I think both guys could certainly challenge for top-six spots during next season (see: Guentzel, Jake). Say, in theory, you have a Guentzel-Crosby-Sprong top line and a ZAR-Malkin-Rust second line? Not out of the realm of possibility.
Kevin in Punxsy
1:51
I don't see either J Staal or the Forward from Colorado fitting into what the Pens need/want from their 3rd line Center.  Your thoughts?
Sam Werner
1:51
Both are probably prohibitively expensive, so it would only work in the context of some larger, seismic moves.
Fred
1:53
I know Sprong is known for great hands, but how is his skating?
Sam Werner
1:54
It's good. Maybe not as natural and awe-inspiring as his shot, but like any young player, that's something he'll try to improve as time goes on. He's a perfectly capable skater.
The Lord of Carson
1:55
Sam
Sam Werner
1:55
Lord of Carson
Steven
1:55
In response to you mentioning Bozak, his defence is pretty bad. Given that the Penguins likely don't want Crosby or Malkin PKing full time, would Bozak really be a fit? If they add Bozak, there's only one C on the roster (Rowney) that will play on the PK. Losing faceoffs is how you have a bad PK.
Sam Werner
1:58
Looks like you're assuming Cullen isn't coming back, which isn't quite a given yet. Regardless, that's a good point, and speaks to how sneaky-valuable Bonino was over the last two years. I'm sure the Penguins would like a guy that can score and PK, but that's really hard to find. There's a reason Nashville paid Bonino $4 million.
Dan W --SoCal Fan
1:59
Do you think Jim R tries to move Maatta or give him another chance to prove himself at least for part of next season?
Sam Werner
2:00
I don't think the Penguins are desperate to move Olli Maatta, by any means. I also know the organization is a lot higher on him than most (all?) of the fan base is. If the Penguins open next season with Maatta as part of their second defense pairing, I think they'd be happy with that.
Andy
2:01
Why do people want the Pens to take on Bozak , who's only under contract for one year?  So they can do this 3C search again next year?  It's not like the Pens have any organizational depth at center just waiting to come up to the NHL.  Sam, do you think they have drafted anyone who is ready to center in the NHL next year?
Sam Werner
2:02
Next year? No. Down the road...maybe. Guys like Adam Johnson, Teddy Blueger, Jean-Sebastien Dea and Thomas Di Pauli are all in the pipeline and it's certainly possible one of those guys is ready for 18-19. And, again, I get what you're saying about Bozak being a one-year rental, but the Penguins' entire focus should be winning a Stanley Cup this year, not worrying too much about anything beyond that. If they think Tyler Bozak lets them do that, then by all means go for it.
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