Archive for the ‘Brooks Orpik’ Category

Almost time to panic, but not quite

June 2, 2009

I’ll be honest, my only real exposure to “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” was half-watching the movie in a drunken stupor. (It seemed OK … Mos Def is amusing and it has pre-Jim/protoJim/Tim from the British Office in it.) Let’s face it, though, it’s the first thing that came up in a Google Image search.

ANNNNYWAY, with the SCF under way (and Jesus lord let’s hope it’s not halfway done) and the NBA Finals about to start, it dawned on me that I’m pretty fucked in about two weeks. Baseball is not my sport, unless I’m drunk in the shade with an avalanche of peanut shells at my feet. The shade at home doesn’t count.

(Shit, maybe I might need to panic, not the Penguins.)

Just to illustrate the depth of badness, I watched “About Last Night” because there was nothing better on my X-Box Netflix queue. Even though my hatred for Jim Belushi rages beyond Chris Osgoodian proportions.

Good God I can’t believe I watched this movie.

(To be fair, there was a shocking amount of pre-ruined by Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore boobs in that movie. Remember kids: small boobs need love too.)

So, the Penguins are in a lot of trouble right now. Being down 0-2 to Detroit is a problem. I’d compare the difference between overcoming the Red Wings versus the Capitals as the jump from hopping a suburban fence to scaling the Great Wall of China.

(Sorry, 80’s movies breed hyperbole. Re-read that sentence as “the Red Wings are tougher than the Capitals”, please.)

This post really isn’t going anywhere, so I’ll leave you with two goats and two semi-heroes.

(For the Penguins, that is.)

From far away that foot behind that goat looks like something … else. Don’t judge me.

Goat #1: Marc Andre Fleury

Sorry, he’s been awful.

Goat #2: Bill Guerin

For some reason, I constantly overreact to Guerin’s struggles. Maybe it’s his “Just for Men” beard. Either way, he had two wide open chances you have to bury and he came up dry. Dammit, Bill.

Semi-Hero #1: Jordan Staal

In true Jordan Staal fashion, he’s been awesome without putting up any points. Joe and I have discussed the fact that the Penguins might be better off spending $4 million on a winger, but I must admit the last two and a half rounds have made me feel better. Staal might not have his elder brother’s finishing touch, but he’s shown some serious balls. He might just be a gamer going forward.

(Besides, he won’t “fail to earn” his contract until next year. Right now, he’s a genuine bargain.)

Semi-Hero #2: Rob Scuderi

It’s going to be hard to stomach watching Brooks Orpik cough up pucks at $3.7 million next year if it means that the Penguins cannot retain Scuderi. While playing against Detroit hasn’t made him look qute so impressive, he’s still the kind of defensive defenseman the Penguins need to be competitive.

Let’s hope they can sign him to a reasonable deal.

Salary Cap Outlook: Pittsburgh Penguins

March 21, 2009

Pittsburgh Penguins
Current cap for 2009-10: $47.3 million
Current starters under contract: 10 forwards, four defensemen and one goalie
Best contract: Tyler Kennedy ($725,000 through 2010-11)
Superstar contracts: Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million through 2012-13); Evgeni Malkin ($8.7 million through 13-14)
Worst contracts: Chris Kunitz ($3.75 million through 11-12)
Wildcard contracts: Jordan Staal ($4 million through 12-13); Marc Andre Fleury ($5 million through 14-15)

The outlook for the Penguins improved greatly when they traded away Ryan Whitney for Chris Kunitz. Although both players are probably ultimately overpaid, Kunitz gives the Penguins another young top-6 forward who brings grit and hustle to the table. Though Whitney may some day make good on his considerable potential, the Penguins have plenty of promising young offensive defensemen.

If Pittsburgh can convince Petr Sykora to take another below market value deal to finish his career alongside Malkin, the team would be pretty set on forwards. With the salary cap future in question, GM Ray Shero‘s model of keeping a core group together while rotating in veteran bargains will probably have to continue for quite some time. Perhaps Bill Guerin would be willing to take a pay cut to re-live his gravy days with a Joe Thornton-level playmaker too.

This might seem strange considering the fact that the Penguins employ two of the league’s best players, but the future of the Penguins rests on the play of Jordan Staal and Marc Andre Fleury. Barring injury, Crosby and Malkin should be among the best in the league for the duration of their contracts.

It’s Staal and Fleury that should make the difference from this team scratching and clawing to make the playoffs or rocking the hockey world.

At first, the $4 million salary cap hit from Staal was difficult to accept. On some level, it still is a bit unsettling. But it’s easy to forget how young JS is. Keep in mind the fact that his brother Eric had his “Staal trophy” breakout year at the same age Jordan will be when he enters next season. If Jordan can blossom into a 60-70 point producer (along with maintaining his smart, gritty two-way style), his contract would be a welcome steal.

Fleury’s contract is scary for a goalie of his fragility. Still, as that multiple OT masterpiece against the Red Wings suggested, Fleury can be among the elite goaltenders when he is healthy and on his game. The $5 million could either be an albatross if he flops or a steal if he frequently dominates like he’s been doing on the Penguins’ current red hot run.

It will be interesting to see if the Penguins can sign Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski to reasonable deals, along with the aforementioned Sykora.

The Penguins do not get the mind blowing steals of a team like Detroit, but they have quite a few players who were willing to take less money to keep a promising team together. It’s not crazy to think that Crosby-Malkin should be a $20 million pairing so getting them for less than $18 million – and long term – makes their contracts moderate bargains.

Time will tell, though, if Pittsburgh would need to trade Staal or Brooks Orpik to simply meet what could be a drastically cut salary cap in the 2010-11 season (and beyond). But for now, the Penguins seem to be doing a fairly solid job with their cap.

Penguins’ probable targets in free agency: A cheap top 6 winger (especially if they cannot retain Sykora); a dependable backup goalie; veteran free agent bargains at all levels