Did the Penguins Check Off Enough “To Do’s” to Win the Cup

The Pittsburgh Penguins had quite the “To Do” List before the March 21.2002, NHL Trade Deadline.  While some decisions can still wait until after the Playoffs, other decisions were made.  Let’s review the checklist and find out, what was addressed and what was not.

Here is what I think is on the Penguins “To Do List” prior to March 21.2022.

1-Search for a Back-up Goalie.

2-Look for Depth on Forward – based on IR Player recovery dates.

3-Look for Depth on Defense – the Playoffs are a War of Attrition.

4-Sign Upcoming Penguins Free Agents – some…not all.

5- Trade upcoming Free Agents for Assets – see above #1 on To Do List.

So, when making big decisions you must factor in your Wants vs your Needs.  There are players the Penguins “Want.”  However, there are other players the Penguins “Need.”  It’s all about Priorities.  Priorities for the Short Term as well as the Long Term.

Pittsburgh Penguins Objectives 2022

1-Make the Playoffs (Short Term)

2-Win the Stanley Cup (Short Term)

3-Be Competitive for years to come (Long Term)

Key Info to Know

When you are talking about the Penguins and the future, you must consider that Crosby, who is still the straw that stirs the drink, will not be part of a re-build.  Only a re-load.

Crosby#87 -F- age 34 $8,700,000. He will become a Free Agent in the 2025-26 season (in 3 years).

By looking at the Penguins Free Agent List, you can see there will be a lot of money potentially coming off the books at the end of this season.  So, whatever your planning, you better keep this information in mind and have taken a creative accounting course.

To Do #1-Search for a Back-up Goalie.

Well, I’m sure the Penguins front office have had many a discussion, regarding the Penguins back-up goalies and the options available going forward.  DeSmith #1, was at the forefront of this conversation, after getting shellacked 6-3 vs Montreal on Nov27.2021.  Since coming back from injury, DeSmith #1 has been better and appears more comfortable or dare I say confident, between the pipes.

DeSmith #1 (Jan28.2022 to March31.2022)

Lost 3-2 Shootout vs Detroit

Won 2-0 vs Ottawa

Won 5-4 OT vs Phila

Won 3-2 vs CBJ

Lost 3-2 OT vs Carolina

Lost 4-1 vs the Preds

Lost 4-3 OT vs Buffalo

Won 4-3 OT vs Minny

He has a 4 Win – 4 Loss record since Jan28.2022, which is not spectacular.  That said, he lost one game in a shootout and two in OT.  I suppose GM-Hextall and President of hockey Ops-Burke figure to ride their #1 goalie Jarry #35 for this playoff run, no matter what.  And should things go sideways, they will just have to simply take their chances with DeSmith #1, for the rest of this year, (he will become an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of this season).

It’s a gamble and a risk for sure, given how the Penguins, in the last month, have lost to Cup Contenders, Carolina, Florida, NYR (3 times) and Colorado (2 times).  Ouch.

To Do #2-Look for Depth on Forward – based on IR Player recovery dates.

To Do #3-Look for Depth on Defense – the Playoffs are a War of Attrition.

On March 21.2022, NHL Trade Deadline Day, the Penguins trade away Forward, Ashton-Reese #12, Forward Simon #49, and Goalie Clang to the Anaheim Ducks, in exchange for Forward Rakell #67, (who will be an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of this season).

On March 21.2022, NHL Trade Deadline Day, the Penguins trade away a conditional 7th round pick in the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft to Winnipeg in exchange for Defenseman Beaulieu #18, (who will be an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of this season).

To Do #4-Sign Upcoming Penguins Free Agents – some…not all.

Penguin Signings

Feb14.2022 signed Defenseman Ruhwedel #2, to a 2-year contract.

March 20.22 singed Defensemen Friedman #52, to 2-year contract.

Penguin Upcoming Free Agents – Priority #1 Group, at the end of this year.

So, this is an interesting group.  By not trading any of them prior to the trade deadline, the Penguins have essentially picked up these players for this year’s playoff run.

Letang #58 -D – age 34 – $7,250,000. He wants to stay a Penguin for Life, however, he also wants a long-term deal.  I understand the value that a Right-Handed Shooting Defensemen has in the NHL.  However, a Long-Term Deal for Big Money will “handcuff” the Penguins for the term he signs for. FYI, the top 5-Defensemen are making between $7 and $9 Million per season, Ouch.  I don’t want to say this but, this is the deal, Money, and Term, which will set the tone for the Penguins near future.   Third in Team Scoring with 60 Points to date.

Malkin#71 -F – age 35 – $9,500,000. He wants to stay a Penguin for Life, appears to be ok with talking less money and might be ok with a 3-year deal, matching Crosby’s Free Agent date.  The Penguins might have to offer a term deal with incentives, given his injury status over the last couple of years. I don’t want to say this but, can you say pay cut or part ways?  36 Points in 35 Games to date.

Rust #17-F -age 29-$3,500,000.  He is an 8-year Penguin, who can score, play team D, provides grit, and can play on any line.  I’m now pretty sure he wants to test his pure market value and cash in as a Free Agent.  Enjoy this run folks, it will be his last in a Penguin Uniform.  Career year with 57 Points to date.

Kapanen $42 -F-age 25- $3,200,000. He is a second year Penguin, who plays up and down the line-up.  I can see his potential, I just would not over-pay for it.  Based on his history to date, it’s time to trade for assets and reallocate the money. Enjoy this run folks, it will be his last in a Penguin Uniform.  A huge disappointment.  Brought in for Secondary Scoring, which has not happened with enough regularity this season.

Rodrigues #9 – F –age 28-$1,000,000.  He has been with the Penguins for 3 seasons.  This year is by far his best season of his career.  He will want a raise for sure.  I’m pretty sure if he wants to test his pure market value as Free Agent.  He was on fire in the first part of the season.  But has cooled off since February 2022.   Again, I can see his potential, I just would not over-pay for it.  A nice bridge deal with the Pens could work or I don’t want to say this but, enjoy this run folks, it will be his last in a Penguin Uniform.  Career year with 18 Goals, 23 Assists and 41 Points to date.

The Penguins, like most teams, are up against the Salary Cap.  They are busy crunching numbers as we speak.  It is one thing to want to keep all your own Free Agents.  It is another thing to pay them all what they think they are worth.

Pittsburgh Penguins as of April 09.2022

41-21-10 = 92 Points

3rd in the Metropolitan Division (Up from 7th Place in Oct)

7th in the Eastern conference (Up from 13th Place in Oct)

11th in the NHL overall (Up from 22nd overall in Oct)

Pittsburgh Penguins are holding the #3 Playoff Spot, in the Metropolitan Division (Eastern Conference).

My View from the Cheap Seats

I know, I know, with all of these upcoming Free Agents, it is quite obvious, this is the last hurrah for this group.  The Penguins are trying to win the cup this year, then the band will break up.

Here is My Take on the Hits and Misses from the Penguins “To Do List.”

1-Search for a Back-up Goalie.  MISSED ON THIS ONE.

2-Look for Depth on Forward – based on IR Player recovery dates. ADDRESSED THIS ONE.

3-Look for Depth on Defense – the Playoffs are a War of Attrition. ADDRESSED THIS ONE.

4-Sign Upcoming Penguins Free Agents – some…not all. ADDRESSED THIS ONE.

5- Trade upcoming Free Agents for Assets – see above #1 on To Do List. MISSED THIS ONE.

What are your thoughts?  Did the Penguins check off enough of their “To Do’s,” to Win it all this year?

In my humble opinion, the Penguins have new Management.  New Management always want their own Players. This is the Last Hurrah. Changes are coming, like it or not.

Quote of the Day

“Cha Cha Cha Changes”

David Bowie – Singer / Songwriter