Monday, May 26, 2008

Dismantling the Penguins

Regardless of what happens in Game 2 tonight and the rest of the finals, things are going to be mighty interesting for the Pittsburgh Penguins going forward. The team's glut of young talent has peaked incredibly quickly, an unexpected rise given where they've come from and a boon for the team and its fans, but a problem, too, for GM Ray Shero.

With more wins, and more goals, come bigger paychecks — and he won't have room for them all.

Twenty players have suited up in these playoffs for the Penguins — 21 if you add in a backup netminder — and altogether this group has a cap hit of just under $43-million this season, comfortably under the cap. (We'll ignore press box popcorn-muncher Darryl Sydor's $2.5-million deal.)

But that's not sustainable, not by a long shot. Here's a look at the Penguins current depth chart, with pending UFAs in red and pending RFAs in green.

Malone Crosby Hossa
Talbot Malkin Sykora
Dupuis Staal Kennedy
Roberts Hall Ruutu

Gonchar Orpik
Scuderi Gill
Whitney Letang



The defence looks to remain intact, sure, but how about those forward lines? How many of those seven will return, keeping in mind the big pay raises on the way for Fleury, Malkin and Staal?

It's more of a question of who you keep, given the economics. Let's assume Shero moves to lock up all three of his centrepiece RFAs, and all sign on with the massive long-term deals that have become customary for similar players.

Fleury's cap hit would balloon from $1.295-million to at least $5-million. Malkin will earn more than $9-million a season, while Staal figures to earn at least $4.5-million per season come 2009-10.

In addition to those three, the Penguins already have four others signed for two years from now: Sidney Crosby, Sergei Gonchar, Ryan Whitney and Kris Letang — who together will combine to earn nearly $20-million in 2009-10. Add in the projected Malkin, Fleury and Staal figures, and we're at $38- to $40-million with just seven players under contract.

Factoring in cap hikes similar to what we've seen, that leaves roughly $20-million to fill out the roster, which will be spread amongst 10 forwards, three defencemen and a backup netminder.

Back to the UFAs. The only way Hossa stays is on a discounted one-year deal, and given the money that will be thrown his way this off-season (upwards of $50-million over seven-plus years), that's likely a non-starter.

He's gone.

Brooks Orpik will command in the $4-million range annually over a lengthy term and can't be kept without moving another blueliner. Ryan Malone's next contract will be bigger than that. And support players like Pascal Dupuis and Ty Conklin will at least double their salaries after strong seasons.

Next season, Pittsburgh's in decent shape, with Malkin and Staal staying on their entry-level deals, but is it possible to keep the "core seven" together and ice a winning team in 2009-10? And if the answer's "no," who do you deal?

Perhaps these young Penguins' time really is now.

Players Pos GP Pts
2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
1 Sidney Crosby C 15 21
3.700 8.700 8.700
2 Evgeni Malkin C 15 19
3.834 3.834 RFA
3 Marian Hossa RW 15 19
6.000 UFA
4 Ryan Malone LW 15 15
1.375 UFA
5 Sergei Gonchar D 15 11
5.000 5.000 5.000
6 Petr Sykora RW 15 8
2.625 2.625 UFA
7 Max Talbot C 12 7
0.675 0.675 RFA
8 Jordan Staal C 15 7
2.200 2.200 RFA
9 Ryan Whitney D 15 6
4.000 4.000 4.000
10 Pascal Dupuis LW 15 6
0.880 UFA
11 Tyler Kennedy C 15 4
0.542 0.542 RFA
12 Robert Scuderi D 15 3
0.713 0.713 UFA
13 Georges Laraque RW 15 3
1.200 UFA
14 Jarkko Ruutu LW 15 3
1.150 UFA
15 Gary Roberts LW 6 3
2.500 UFA
16 Kris Letang D 15 2
0.835 0.835 0.835
17 Brooks Orpik D 15 2
1.038 UFA
18 Adam Hall RW 12 2
0.525 UFA
19 Hal Gill D 15 1
2.075 2.075 UFA
20 Marc-Andre Fleury G 15 0
1.295 RFA
21 Ty Conklin G 0 0
0.500 UFA

$42.66 $31.20 $18.54



At 10:08 a.m., May 26, 2008, Anonymous Kevin Forbes said...

might be just me, but it's near impossible to see the green RFAs on your line chart, with that font size/setting.
Maybe bold them or something?

At 11:22 a.m., May 26, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only choice in this era is to sign your top guys and after that sign cheap players to fill out your roster.

There will be a lot of useful grinders playing for 500-700.000. There has to be because no team has money to give these players.

If Dubuis gets more somewhere else you bring in another "dubuis". That's hockey life in the NHL circa 2005-

At 12:05 p.m., May 26, 2008, Anonymous MCDevils said...

i think it's possible to keep the core together, but it will take small discounts from the group of Malkin, Staal, Malone, and Fluery, and a significant discount from Hossa.

Malkin will not make 9 million a year from the Penguins - if he re-signs there, which i think he will, it will probably be for just under what Crosby makes. i'd guess around 8.5/8.6 per.

They'll need Hossa to accept a long term deal at 6 million, Malone to take about 4 million per, and Staal and Fluery to take about 4.5 each.

Replace the likes of Gill and Sykora with sub $1 million players and fill out the rest of your roster with relatively low money guys, and just hope that the cap grows to close to $60 million in '09-10.

it will be very tough, but i think it could be done if the key players are willing to give up a small amount of cash for the chance to be part of something great.

At 12:12 p.m., May 26, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

It's is completely unrealistic to expect Malkin to sign a deal smaller than Crosby's two years later and after he's coming off a Hart Trophy nomination this year. It's not going to happen.

The majority of the time, when players take discounts, they do it well in advance of July 1. Hossa's headed for a huge payday, and Malone could be too, given how few scoring forwards are available as UFAs.

At 12:35 p.m., May 26, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe I read somewhere earlier that someone asked about Malkin taking a hometown discount, and the answer was negative. Hossa has said several times that he's not interested in taking a discount, either, and he's already making six million - he might take a smaller raise, but he won't play for the same salary when he might be able to get a lot more. He's also talked before about how much fun he had playing with Zdeno Chara, and I believe that Boston has some salary cap space - they certainly need the scoring.

At 5:27 p.m., May 26, 2008, Anonymous twain said...

Hossa might be getting 9 million+ as an UFA; even if he were to give a team a discount, can we really fathom a $3 million discount?

Hossa is gone, and Malkin will be signed and retained for more than Crosby. After that, you have some tough decisions.

At 8:32 p.m., May 26, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless we're talking about game-changing supertars (i.e. Crosby and Malkin) everybody is expendable. Hossa is johnny-come-lately anyway, so what difference does it make if he leaves? Malone is an enigma who is hardly a mortal lock to score 30 on a line not centred by Crosby or Malkin. And the rest, with all due respect, are replaceable. If some GM wants to throw $6M a year at Fleury, take the 4 1st rounders and have at 'er. Orpik? Gimme a break. Pylon. Dupuis? Plug. Ruutu? Liability? Roberts? OAP eligible.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Links to this post:

Create a Link


Free Page Rank Checker
eXTReMe Tracker