#1 ESPN's Pierre Lebrun with a scoop on the Penguins:
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.
#Pens retained on Scuderi unaffected if he clears and is assigned to AHL. Will continue to hit #Pens cap as $1.125M
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.