- The snippet in my last post opining that Sidney Crosby is no longer the best player in the NHL certainly raised one helluva discussion. It's just an opinion, folks. No one's wrong, no one's right.
- Let's open things up with something I've said on Twitter recently that I'm sure people will love or hate: Personally, I'd love to see Mike Richards in Black and Vegas Gold next season. Of course, this is under the assumption that the Kings would buyout his contract after the Finals are over. You heard the phrase "grit and character" a lot in Dejan's recent interview with 66, Ron Burkle and David Morehouse. Well, you want grit, character and above average skill, I give you Mike Richards. Now, one of my Twitter followers thinks Richards' age (turned 29 in February) is too old under the guidance that the team needs to get younger. Well, I agree to a certain extent, but overall I don't think 29 is too old. In addition, there are those who have pointed out that Richards is the 4th line center with the Kings and it would be highly doubtful that the Pens would sign him in that same position. Valid point, but Richards has played wing before, both with the Kings and in the Olympics.
- The hiring of Jim Rutherford, I guess, makes sense if you look at it in the point of view of Penguins management. Obviously, with the retaining and promotion of Jason Botterill, Tom Fitzgerald and Bill Guerin, 66 and Burkle feel that core is on the cusp of taking over the reins of Penguins hockey operations. And with that, the hiring of Rutherford simply creates a transitional timeframe until such time that ownership feels that Botterill is ready to take over. So I can see that. But overall, if you're retaining Botterill, Fitzgerald and Guerin, will it be that easy to change the philosophy of the Shero regime, considering the only one gone will be Shero? I don't know how easy or hard that question is, just something that keeps popping in my head.
- GMJR certainly has one helluva full plate, with a rapidly upcoming draft, numerous free agents, and a roster that needs significant modifications. Rutherford did address a question on Kris Letang at the press conference, and for what it's worth, seemed to indicate a lack of willingness to trade him. Of course, that could certainly change by July 1st, when his new deal with the no-move clause kicks in. The trade value of Letang, considering his huge upcoming salary and injury history, no doubt comes into play. Some in the hockey press have opined that Edmonton could/might be a suitor for Letang's services, with their plethora of young talent available in return. His status will only be one of several major evolutions that Rutherford and his staff will have to evaluate.
- Not an indication of anything of course, but with several teams already contacting James Neal's agent as willing trade partners, that writing might just be on the wall a lot more prominently than that of Letang. A 40-goal scorer with a decent cap hit of $5 million for the next four seasons probably facilitates that.
- On the head coach front, I just have to repeat myself from my last post: I think how Penguins management treated Dan Bylsma prior to his firing was entirely unfair. Yes, I've already heard those proclaiming "business is business" and things of that nature. And yes, I'm sure Dan will no doubt be the next head coach in either Florida, Carolina or Vancouver. But that process should have commenced the day Ray Shero was fired.
- I'll be completely honest, I don't know John Hynes' style any more or less than that of any of the other head coach candidates that have been speculated upon. And I think it's also fair to mention that I have no idea how much he can modify his coaching system after mirroring Bylsma's all these years. But would Hynes as a head coach fall under the ownership's new "grit and character" mantra? I guess we'll see if it will turn out to be Hynes, or a "tougher" coach like Ulf Samuelsson or Rick Tocchet.
- The Penguins' group of Restricted Free Agents is really an interesting bunch, in terms of how other teams might target them. The top of that list are Brandon Sutter and Simon Despres, not to mention Jayson Megna and Philip Samuelsson. Sutter surely is due for a decent raise from his $2.7 million salary ($2.066 cap hit) last season. Rutherford and his crew are going to have to take that into account when their attempting to manage their massive payroll.