Winner: Brooks Orpik In the past few years the Penguins most physical defensemen has suffered and played through groin injuries and undergone a couple of surgical procedures in the summers of 2010 and 2011. Getting most of the fall off and not having to make it through 82 games in the grind of a regular season should be a great benefit for a player like Orpik who could use the rest and be primed to be in better condition for a potential shortened season and sprint to the playoffs.
Loser: Sidney Crosby One player who does not need the rest is Sidney Crosby. Since January 1, 2011 Crosby has played just 30 combined NHL regular season and playoff games due to his concussion/neck problems. Finally he is feeling healthy and 100%, but there is no NHL for him to play in and with the ramifications of insuring a $104 million contract, escaping to Europe doesn’t look like an attractive option either. At 25, Crosby is in about the prime of his career. But injuries and this lockout have kept him off the ice for most of the past 2 full years, and that’s truly a shame.
Winner: Evgeni Malkin As frustrating as this situation has been for Crosby, it must be as enjoyable for Evgeni Malkin. The reigning NHL MVP and scoring champion and has gotten to stay in his hometown, playing for Magnitogorsk in the KHL. He’s with his best bud Sergei Gonchar, they’re near the top of the standings and Malkin has continued to play well with 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) in 21 games. And, if you believe the rumors, the top players in Russia like Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin are making near the same salary as they in the NHL (plus taxes are less and they get to live at home). Not a bad gig for Malkin.
Loser: Marc-Andre Fleury Coming off a .834 save percentage and 4.63 GAA performance in the Flyers series, no player was looking forward to turning the page to 2012-13 more than Marc-Andre Fleury. Only now with the lockout he can’t. Fleury hasn’t gone to Europe, so who knows how sharp he’ll be if/when the season starts up. Also, if we were to have hockey, it’ll be a bunch of games crammed into a short season, which means there will be more back-to-back games and chances for the backup to play…Which leads to:
Winner: Tomas Vokoun Vokoun gets the benefit of NOT playing every day, and since he had a significant groin injury this March, he might benefit the most on the entire team for not having to play or practice every single day. Plus throw in the fact that if we have a 60 game season, he’ll probably be starting a lot of those games in the shortened season. The Penguins probably didn’t get a $2 million backup not to play him a lot, but this situation could be perfect for Vokoun to see a lot of games and audition for the case that he should be the starting goalie come playoff time.
Winner: Eric Tangradi The Penguins, as you might have heard, are looking for goal-scoring wingers. In 15 games Eric Tangradi has 9 goals (good for a tie of second in the whole AHL) and has come alive lately on the power play, using his size in front of the net to put away a bunch of goals. Tangradi’s struggles to establish himself in the NHL have been well documented, but there’s no doubt that his solid showing so far in Wilkes-Barre has to be a boon to his chances of getting a chance to start the season on a scoring line in Pittsburgh….Assuming of course the season ever starts.
Loser: Tyler Kennedy Every week that passes without hockey is just another week that the players will lose forever. This hurts all the players, of course, but it probably hurts no one more on the Penguins than Tyler Kennedy, who should have been enjoying a $2 million salary. Will he ever make that kind of money again? Seems doubtful. And at 26/27 years old, he’s a prime candidate to be screwed over when the players and league agree on what age/service level a player will be to become an unrestricted free agent.
Winner: Craig Adams’ air miles Seriously, with the amount of travel time Craig Adams has logged flying to New York and Toronto to participate in the union side of negotiations, his family is probably in for a sick vacation sooner or later.
Loser: Steve MacIntyre MacIntyre was signed to a contract extension with the Pens that would pay him $625,000 this season and next if he were “playing” in the NHL. Sure his job is very stressful to have to live with knowing big, tough guys want to beat you up on a daily basis, but he also “plays” 3 minutes a night and most nights is a healthy scratch sitting in the press box as a very highly paid observer. To lose out on that for an AHL contract is a big salary hit for a guy who’s niche isn’t that strong to begin with.