While it's enticing to demand change for the sake of change, we are going to need the best personnel in each position in order for us to ever lift the Cup again. With Superstars like Crosby and Malkin under contract for years to come, we will likely find ourselves in the late spring- early summer tournament for years to come. Making a deep run requires the right mix of luck and having the right guys under contract. Although we will never know how we would have fared with this personnel if we made it to the conference finals, this league is constantly changing, and no roster stays the same.
Chris Kunitz: Although he experienced a noticeable drop in performance after the olympic break, his rapport with Crosby and All Star level production on an affordable contract make him a shoe in for next year's roster. He Stays
Sidney Crosby: Do I really need to explain this one? He Stays
Brian Gibbons: He's a fast skater but his puck handling skills are at an AHL level. Assuming that we can sign him on a 2-way contract and use him in a bottom 6 role, he'll be worth having around. If another team is willing to offer him a one way deal, we should let him go. Re-sign under a 2 way deal
Jussi Jokinen: After a 2012-2013 campaign filled with failed attempts at finding a 3rd winger for Geno and Nealer, Jussi parlayed an impressive preseason into a year long spot on the second line. Additionally, his 7 goals in the postseason this year were tops among the team, cementing himself as a valuable asset. With his age and our limited cap space, we are going to need him to accept a relatively short term deal at a similar amount to his current one ($3M). Re-sign if the price is right
Evgeni Malkin: Again, I shouldn't have to explain this one. He Stays
James Neal: Yeah, he takes bad penalties. He's certainly not a perfect player, but when you have a 40 goal scorer who meshes well with your MVP center under contract at annual cap hit of $5M, you keep him. It's much more manageable to take a guy who produces like Neal and make him play clean than it is to take a guy who plays clean and get him to produce like Neal does. He Stays
Pascal Dupuis: What does this guy not do? Along with being able to fill in with Sid like nobody else could, he is a key part of our PK that led the league early in the season. He Stays
Beau Bennett: When healthy, he can be electrifying. After returning from injury, he displayed flashes of brilliance. During the Columbus series, he was a valuable asset on the 3rd line. During the 2nd round, he missed practice time while icing his wrist, and it is likely that his lackluster series was caused by a flare up of his wrist injury. I don't want to see him in the lineup until his wrists are 100%, but with a minimal cap hit, the only reason he doesn't come back should be a big trade offer. He Stays (possible trade bait)
Brandon Sutter: After a strong postseason effort, the only reason not to bring him back would be an overpriced offer sheet. He Stays (as long as it is at the right price)
Lee Stempniak: With a cap hit of $2.5M this season, it is unlikely that we will be able to offer the highest bid. With that being said, I wouldn't mind having a full season 3rd line of 19-16-22. He Stays (if he's willing to accept Tyler Kennedy money)
Marcel Goc: Having a guy who can win 57% of his facoffs is valuable, but assuming that he asks for a similar price to his current deal ($1.7M), we will have to let him walk. He Goes
Craig Adams: He has been a great teammate during his time in Pittsburgh, and he deserves a standing ovation the next time he enters the CEC. He Goes
Tanner Glass: It's nice to have a guy who takes the body as often as Glass and is willing to block shots. The thing is, we have guys in WBS who can do this as well, but are on much friendlier contracts. He Goes
Taylor Pyatt: lol. He Goes
Joe Vitale: He is strong in the dot and plays his butt off. If he's willing to accept the league minimum, I wouldn't mind having him around (he'll need to play well to avoid the Dustin Jeffrey treatment). He Stays (at a minimal price)
Jayson Megna: Much like Gibbons, he currently offers little more than a boost of speed. If we can sign him to a 2 way deal, he's worth keeping. He Stays (2-way deal)
Chris Conner: He looked good before his injury, and if we can sign him to a 2 way deal, we might as well. He Stays (2 way deal)
Paul Martin: He has arguably been our most reliable defenseman when healthy. With a stable of young D-men coming up, we cant afford to not have him around. He Stays
Kris Letang: With his $7.25M deal kicking in, we're going to need him to earn it. When he's on his game, he's one of the best D-men in the league. Let's hope that he has a healthy year and can consistently perform. He Stays
Brooks Orpik: As slow as he is now, it wont get any better after his knee injury in the second round. If he's willing to take a dramatic pay cut, we may want to consider keeping him, but that is very unlikely. He Goes
Matt Niskanen: If there is any positive from his poor 2nd round, it's that his asking price during the offseason may have gone down. If we can get him for $4M or less, we should welcome him back. Reliable right handed defensemen are hard to come by. He Stays (at the right price)
Olli Maata: He peaked during the Olympics, and is going to need to continue his improvement in order for him to be as great as some say he will. If his growth stays stagnant, he become trade bait in a couple of years. For now, we love having him around. He Stays
Rob Scuderi: If Shero plans to use a buyout, this is the guy. Outside of his veteran presence (which may be valuable for our young d-men), he doesn't offer anything that we can't find in WBS. He Goes (If Shero is willing to use a buyout)
Robert Bortuzzo: He knows his role and he plays it well. With the risk of losing Niskanen, there's no reason to give up on this right handed defenseman. He Stays
Simon Despres: Another hot and cold D-man, Despres will be worth keeping around if we can get him signed to a 2 way deal. He Stays
Deryk Engelland: At this point in his career, it's unlikely that we can bring him in on a 2 way deal. With all of our prospects on the blue line, it wouldn't make much sense to sign him to a 1 way deal. He Goes
Marc Andre Fleury: 2.4 GAA, .915 Sv. %. There is no question that he is the guy we want in the regular season, and his improvement in the playoffs provides hope that he can become a force in the years to come. Buying him out so that we can sign a less accomplished goalie is pointless. He Stays
Tomas Vokoun: He's already made his choice. He Retires
Jeff Zatkoff: He's under contract at a minimum rate for the next 2 years. I wouldn't be against trading him in favor of a more established goalie who can back up Fleury (like TV did last year), but assuming that the price is too high, he's worth keeping around. He Stays
Ray Shero: 2012-2013's GM of the year managed to put together a strong roster that under performed. As the guy in charge of bringing in the right people, there's not a whole lot that he can do about that. Although people like to pick at his bad decisions, in the grand scheme of things, the good outweigh the bad. He Stays
Dan Bylsma: Pretend that you're a fan of any team looking for a coach (ex. VAN). With Bylsma available, is there any way that he's not your preferred candidate? If we're going to change coaches, we'd need to be upgrading. Outside of Larry Robinson (who likely wouldn't come here), none of this year's candidates can arguably be looked at as being on his level, let alone better. TK did a fantastic job of explaining this in detail. He Stays
Jacques Martin: He was able to provide a boost to our special teams and has worked his way into consideration for another head coaching gig. If no offers are made, I'd like to keep him around. He Stays
Tony Granato: For much of the season, his PK unit was among the best in the league. With that being said, he's been around for a while, so if there has to be a scapegoat, it may be him. He Stays (if he isn't the scapegoat)
Todd Rierden: Same as Granato. He may be the scapegoat, but if we can avoid losing him, we should. He Stays (if he isn't the scapegoat)
Mike Bales: Fleury and Zatkoff both had excellent season's during his first campaign. No reason to get rid of him. He Stays
Free Agents to look at:
Brad Boyes: He should be available at a minimum contract and has proven to be able to be productive with superstars (Tavares). After the struggles we had when Duper went down, it would be in our best interest to have a guy who can perform when called upon a top 6 line.
Daniel Alfredsson: He may be willing to come to a team like Pittsburgh at a reduced rate for one last run at the cup.
Beniot Pouliot: He can offer us depth at an affordable rate, assuming that the Rangers aren't willing to pay.
Dominic Moore: It's been a while since we've been able to get under our opponents skin. Guys like Matt Cooke and Jarko Ruutu have done this for us in the past, and it may be worth considering bringing Moore in to provide us with a pest in the future.
1st Round: Sonny Milano- Jack Eichel's trusted winger has a strong mix of size and skill. Projected to go in the middle of the first, he's a guy that we will want to get our hands on. Here's to hoping that he falls in our laps like Maata did in 2012.
Late Round Prospects: Most of knowledge of prospects lies in the USHL (I worked with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders this season), so my choices will be from America's league.
Andrew Poturalski: Leading scorer in Cedar Rapids and an all around gamer. The highlight of his season came in the form of a hat trick against Team USA, which included 2 last minute tallies while Jack Eichel was on the ice.
Shane Eiserman: Leading scorer for Dubuque. More of a 2 way player than Poturalski, but not quite as clutch.
Clark Kuster: Hard working right Handed defenseman from Cedar Rapids. Arguably the best defenseman on the team (including when Ivan Provorov was around), and he possesses a slapper in the neighborhood of 100 MPH