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The Pens got their players signed Tony Hawk skateboards after the 2009 Stanley Cup

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...And news on the future salary cap limits for the NHL

3rd Annual Mammoth Film Festival Red Carpet - Saturday Photo by Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for Mammoth Media Institute

Great insight and information in the latest 31 Thoughts column by Elliotte Friedman. As usual, it’s worth your time and attention.

Here’s some cool notes:

Tyler Kennedy, who won the 2009 Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh and played 527 NHL games with the Penguins, Sharks, Islanders and Devils, did his interview with Jeff and I in his memorabilia room. One surprising and interesting possession: a skateboard.

“When we won the Cup, (owner Ron Burkle) had Tony Hawk personally sign all these skateboards for us… this is the coolest thing.

Kennedy also talked about his post-playing career as training hockey players and develop skills and chimes in with a funny story about Evgeni Malkin’s habit of examining and borrowing new players’ sticks when they get to the Penguins.

Friedman also had some interesting nuggets about the draft lottery and the future NHL/NHLPA negotiations for return to play and the CBA negotiations.

Especially of note:

  • If the season cannot be finished, the Pens won’t have a shot at the first overall pick. If the plans fail to finish the year, the eight teams in the lottery draft will default to the lowest eight teams (Montreal, the Rangers, Florida and Columbus in the East; Chicago, Arizona, Minnesota and Winnipeg in the West) to each have a 12.5% chance in the Phase 2 draft lottery.
  • Vancvouer+Vegas were almost announced as hub cities, but Vancouver is now out. It is believed that Toronto is now the leading contender to join Vegas as hub cities. If plans don’t change, the Eastern teams would play in Toronto and the Western Conference games would be played in Las Vegas.
  • The new CBA may be voted on by the players as soon as this week. It would add four more years onto the current deal. Also, “20 per cent escrow limit for players in 2020-21; somewhere between 14-18 per cent in 2021-22, with a hope of getting into single digits after; salary cap of $81.5 million for the next two seasons, and $82.5 million in 2022-23; a 10 per cent player “deferral” next season (which includes July 1 signing bonuses due next week), where players will get that money back in the future when escrow is lower”
  • Nothing about buyouts were mentioned, and if the cap does remain at $81.5 million (the amount it was in 2019-20), that will be the challenge that big market teams like Pittsburgh have to deal with. The Pens currently have $68.275 million already committed to 15 players with several important restricted free agents to re-sign (like both goalies Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry, and Jared McCann and Evan Rodrigues. Conor Sheary and Justin Schultz are impending unrestricted free agents).
  • Friedman also mentioned an important aspect to be determined is what the threshold of a “walk away” number is for teams in arbitration hearings. This past year it was almost $4.4 million, anything less and a team was forced to give that contract to a player. If it was more, the team could elect to walk away from the award, which instantly makes the player an unrestricted free agents. Considering that every major Pens’ RFA has arbitration rights, especially again the goalies, that could make for an interesting procedure if the team feels a player is given too high a salary.
  • Team-wide mandatory training camps, scheduled to begin on July 10, could be delayed by only by three to five days.

Here’s more with the ol’ boy TK