I think on defense, pending unrestricted free agent Roman Polak is among the available defensemen the Penguins are monitoring; he'd be a nice fit on their third pairing and penalty kill. The Toronto Maple Leafs won't have a hard time peddling the very likable Polak, a tough dude who oozes character, as there is lots of interest in him among the league's contenders ahead of the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
Up front, I think a guy who would be a terrific add-on for the Penguins is winger Mikkel Boedker, should he not re-sign with the Arizona Coyotes. His speed would be a nice complement to that top-six group in Pittsburgh. Again, there will be competition for the skilled 26-year-old Boedker, so perhaps too rich for the Penguins, but we shall see.
Starting with Boedker, yeah in a perfect world, sign him up for the Pens. A speedy, skilled winger who's been productive in a system that hasn't featured a lot of skilled players, what's not to like? Well, only the fact that like LeBrun ends with, the bidding for such a player will be hot and heavy and the Penguins already have a depleted prospect system and future draft picks and don't have the ability to win. Boedker would be nice but is probably a pass, since he'd be nothing more than a rental, one Pittsburgh can't afford at that.
For Polak, it's bound to give hemorrhoids to those who live and die by the analytics, but we're with Gretz -- GM Jim Rutherford's track record is to get rid of, not acquire bigger, slower defensemen who can't move the puck. Based on that track-record, there's no reason to get panties in a bunch over the mere mention of Polak to the Pens. He's probably this year's Jan Hejda where Pens fans flip out he might be coming, but probably never is.
#2: Which leads us to Rob Scuderi, waived by the Chicago Blackhawks yesterday. Our @Darnay asked if they send him to the minors will it affect the Penguins cap situation with the retention of Scuderi's salary. Unfortunately, the answer from General Fanager is no.
The one place the Pens could get relief is if Chicago were to buyout Scuderi's contract this summer. If so, the Pens $1.125 million 2016-17 retention changes to:
- $569,000 in 2016-17
- $277,000 in 2017-18
It trades the Pens $556k next year for $277k the following year, a good trade if the cap goes down for next season.
#3: Glass half-full: Pens take 3 out of 4 points on road-trip
Glass half-empty: Pens only 3 goals in those two games and don't seem particularly in groove offensively
Which could it be? Hopefully we don't find out if Evgeni Malkin can return from injury.
#4: A rare slow stretch this week in the 7 days from last Saturday to this Friday, only 2 games for the Pens (Monday's SO loss, and then Thursday's game). In the 7 days before, they played 4 games. In the next 7 days they only have 3 games, but two are coming in the dreaded afternoon matinee.
#5: More glass half-full to leave you with: Pens are 16-8-4 at home (a 105 point pace over a full season), compared to just 12-11-4 on the road (85 point pace). Nicely, 6 of the next 9 games are at the friendly confines of Consol.