Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Trade Wrap Up...

A couple last minute deals that were wrapped up by Ray Shero...

The Penguins acquire Florida d-man Joel Kwiatkowski for a 4th round draft pick and San Jose minor-league goalie Nolan Schaefer for a 7th rounder.

Joel Kwiatkowski 6-2 210 lbs, left handed shot, is a mobile defenseman who can move the puck well out of the defensive zone. Has been criticized for not using his size effectively enough and tends to make critical mistakes.

Nolan Schaefer 6-2 200 lbs, he is a big kid who can come off the bench. Perfect for a back-up role. Has only 7 games of NHL experience but posted a gaa of 1.88 and s% of .920.

Big Deals of the Day:

Gary Roberts for Noah Welch

I think that this is a good deal for the Penguins. Welch had been given every opportunity to make the NHL roster and was not able too. He may end up being a solid contributor in Florida, but you have to give an asset to gain one. Roberts is a warrior who will bring veteran leadership, toughness and touch around the net. He has also been there done that when it comes to the NHL playoffs. This 19-year vet will show the youngsters in Pittsburgh how to win. He will also be great for potential power forwards Colby Armstrong and Ryan Malone.

Georges Laraque for Daniel Carcillo and 3rd round pick

Laraque will ensure that the opposition does not abuse the Penguins young stars, especially Sidney Crosby. He has some history with Michel Therrien; the two won a QMJHL championship together in Granby. He is not just brawn; Laraque can play the game and has posted 22 points this season. He will fit nicely on the Penguins 4th line and his presence should keep eastern tough guys honest. Is he the Dave Semanko to Sidney Crosby's Wayne Gretzky?

3rd round pick from the Wild for Dominic Moore

In Moore the Wild get a great two-way player. Moore goes all out on every shift. It will be a shame to break up the RPM line, but it is not a crippling move. He had worked his way in and out of the team's doghouse a couple times this season, and occasionally tried to do too much. Subtracting Moore opens a role for Ryan Malone, I foresee him falling into place as the third line center. He tends to flourish a bit more in a role where he is considered one of the better players on his line. This trade also washes the third rounder that was spent in the Laraque deal.

It is still a bit surprising that Shero did not acquire a defenseman of note. Kwiatkowski may fill a role for this team, but he is not the big steady guy most thought would be brought in. Is the defense steady enough to make a long playoff run? That is yet to be determined...a step in the right direction would be to reinsert Alain Nasreddine into the line-up. The journeyman has been very steady this season. Josef Melichar would make a nice fill in, but hasn't been near as effective since returning from his knee injury.

What would you have liked to see the Penguins do?

Update 12:35pm - Pen Grab Roberts and Laraque

As I mentioned a couple days ago, the price for Big Georges would go down, and it did just that. Dan Carcillo may end up being the same type of player in the NHL as Laraque, maybe even a bit better, but I like the deal. If the Penguins had parted with anything over a 4th round pick it would have been horrible. That is not to say that I have figured out where Laraque fits in, but on paper it is a good deal.

The Roberts saga thankfully has come to an end. No more should he stay or should he go....signed, sealed and delivered. I will get you guys more on that one tonight.

Sounds like Ray Shero should take up sales, because he has done a great job in talking Roberts and Laraque into coming to Pittsburgh.

More soon...


The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced the acquisition of Gary Roberts. As noted yesterday, Noah Welch has gone the other way.

I am tending to one of my Dad's appts this morning, but will be back online soon...updating via wireless. Will be live at Mellon Arena tonight...

Stay tuned...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Pens Trade Deadline Preview...

The trade deadline is now only 4 days away and for the first time in many years the Penguins may actually be buyers. Instead of wondering which big name player was going to be subtracted from their roster only to be replaced with the likes of Richard Lintner or Rico Fata they will be waiting anxiously to see what magic Ray Shero has up his sleeve. Will he pull off something close to the deal that brought Ulf, Ronnie and Grant to town along with the Stanley Cup or will he end up with something horrifying like Nasland for Stojanov! We will all know by 3:00pm on Tuesday, but at least we are able to speculate about possible deals that will make the team better instead of tear it apart.

Even during the bad times in Pittsburgh, the trade deadline was one of my favorite times of the hockey season. This year is no different, with that in mind I put together a list of the possible players that could be on their way to Pittsburgh along with cap/contract info and my feeling on whether the deal could happen. I have selected players that have been rumored to Pittsburgh over the past couple weeks...of course I have subtracted Anson Carter, as he has been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Here is where the Penguins are roughly situated capwise. The team has spent $27,075,021.00 to this point leaving them with plenty of room under the cap to acquire a player or two.

On to the list (cheapest to most expensive)....

Georges Laraque
Laraque has been rumored to the Pens a couple other times this season but things seem to have heated up. He is widely considered one of the best fighters in the league and has some history with head coach Michel Therrien. The two won a QMJHL title together in Granby. Laraque is the type of player who can skate a regular shift on a third or fourth line and chip in with more than just fists. Laraque has a No Trade Clause and would have to approve any deal. I could see this going down...the 'Yotes shouldn't be asking for too much in return.

06-07 salary Remaining Salary 07-08 Status
$1,100,000.00 $281,715.00 signed $1.3 Mil $1.2 cap hit

Bryan Smolinski
Smoke, who once was a Pittsburgh Penguin, has drawn a lot of attention from around the league. He is a good face-off guy and a leader in the locker room. Smolinski also has a scoring touch and can play the power play. He would most likely bump someone from the Penguins third line upon arrival in Pittsburgh. Would he stunt the growth of Max Talbot? That is debatable. Smoke would be a nice addition, but the Hawks may want more than Ray Shero is willing to pay. I see this one as a low percentage.

06-07 salary Remaining Salary 07-08 Status
$1,520,000.00 $389,277.00 UFA

Curtis Joseph
Cujo is getting a bit long in the tooth, but he still has some gas in the tank. He will probably end up with a contender, but it will not be Pittsburgh. The Penguins would have been in the market for a consistent back up to Marc Andre Fleury, but Jocelyn Thibault has re-emerged as a very viable option, having won his last three starts. Thibault will be the Penguins back up. No deal.

06-07 salary Remaining Salary 07-08 Status
$2,000,000.00 $512,190.00 UFA

Bill Guerin
Bill Guerin's 28 goals and 19 assists would look great on one of the Penguins top two lines, however he has not played very much Left Wing during his career and that is where the Penguins could use him most. They need a proven goal scorer to hop onto Sidney Crosby's line. They individual would play along side the Kid and Mark Recchi. The Blues are believed to be asking for a lot in return. Ray Shero will not sell the farm to acquire what could only be considered a rental for the rest of the season.

06-07 salary Remaining Salary 07-08 Status
$2,000,000.00 $512,190.00 UFA

Eric Brewer
Brewer has great size and carries a cannon of a shot from the point. He would instantly become a top 4 defenseman on the Penguin blue line. It has been said that he could play a more physical game and that he has never fully harnessed his offensive ability. If he would sign a deal to stay in Pittsburgh, this could happen. Though there are plenty of suitors and the price may quickly climb out of the Penguins range.

06-07 salary Remaining Salary 07-08 Status
$2,014,000.00 $515,781.00 UFA

Aaron Miller
Miller is the most likely to come to the Penguins. He is exactly what they need. A big, strong defenseman who is capable of effectively clearing the front of his net. He is not prone to mistakes and is known as a winner wound the league. Miller has ties to USA hockey, as does Penguins GM Ray Shero. Miller could come cheaper than some of the other options, such as Brewer.

06-07 salary Remaining Salary 07-08 Status
$2,280,000.00 $556,100.00 UFA

Nick Boynton
Boynton is a younger more expensive version of Aaron Miller with some additional offensive upside. He could come as part of any deal bringing Laraque to the Penguins, but that is not a given. The bottom line is that he is known to be available, but his price may be too high for the Penguins. The good thing about him is that he is signed for the next two years.

06-07 salary Remaining Salary 07-08 Status
$$2,950,000.00 $755,496.00 signed next 2 seasons @ 2.95 mil

Keith Tkachuk
Tkachuk has always intrigued me, and he was one of the most dominant power forwards in the league at one point in time. He has a huge frame, a great shot and plays with an ill-tempered disposition. He can still put up some numbers and would look great next to Malkin or Crosby. The bottom line is that he is a bit too expensive and the Blues are going to want more than Shero is willing to pay. Stranger things have happened, but of the two power forwards in St. Louis, Guerin is more likely to Pittsburgh and that in and of itself is a long shot.

06-07 salary Remaining Salary 07-08 Status
$3,800,000.00 $973,161.00 UFA

Most Likely Future Penguins: Laraque, Miller, Smolinski
Least Likely Future Penguins: Guerin, Tkachuk, Boynton, Brewer, Joseph

Most Likely Ex Penguins: Noah Welch, Ryan Malone, Dom Moore, Nils Ekman, Josef Melichar

Friday, February 16, 2007

This Crazy Life and The Penguins...

Sorry for the layoff. I want to start by apologizing to everyone who has come back regularly since the Pittsburgh Penguins Report began in October of '05. I know that it stinks to navigate to a blog that you just may enjoy reading, only to find out that it has been stuck in last week...or worse, last month! The PPR will get back to regular updates this week.

The last couple weeks have been pretty crazy and haven't allowed a lot of time to do what I needs to be done for two sites. I found out recently that my father has been dianosed with cancer and he has needed some help...plus it has been a shock not knowing exactly what siuation we are in. It doesn't look very good right now, but updating you guys here and at www.hockeybuzz.com is something that I love doing and keeps me sane during the tough times. It is a great escape and helps to keep thoughts off of the scary things. So please keep coming back...I appreciate your patience! I am no longer able to post my Hockey Buzz material here as it is under a copyright there, but that just means I will be posting completely original material here and there. Two sources for Penguins info! It is going to be an exciting ride the rest of the way and I hope that you will all be here to follow it with me. I have a lot of exciting things planned...please keep questions, comments and ideas coming!


The Penguins took the first step towards challenging the New Jersey Devils for the Atlantic division title tonight by beating them 5-4. Who would have thought that would even be something worth speculating back in September? Well, get ready Penguins fans, because your Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves only 5 points behind the Devils with 3 more head to head match-ups and one game in hand.

I know that the 5 point is going to be tough to make up, but it is possible. The Penguins have been on fire, and seem to have found a way to win games even when they do not play well. They are now 13-0-2 in their last 15 games and look as if they may never lose another game! I know that the streak will end at some point, but they have been very consistant during the streak and have gotten contributions from up and down the line-up. They were able to overcome an eight game goaless streak from Sidney Crosby and have not allowed the fact that they have blown leads in for consecutive games effect what they are doing.

Marc Andre Fleury seems to have taken the next step in his development, something I predicted would happen after the all star break. Even when he allows too many goals, such as tonight, he tends to make the big save when the game is on the line. He even shook off a very soft goal tonight...something that he has been unable to do in the past. Last season he would have unravelled a bit and possibly lost the game.

Sidney Crosby got the monkey off of his back and finally got back in the goal column, that will only help the team. Look what they were doing when their best played wasn't scoring goals...what will they do when he is putting the puck in regularly?

This Penguin team is the hottest in the league right now and have also morphed into one of the most exciting. I am not predicting that they will win the division, but they do have the chance...a playoff run is definitely in their future. Get ready for 1988-89 redux folks, this will be the year our young Penguins cut their playoff teeth...that next cup can't be too far in the future.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How About A Notes Column!?

The Penguins have a huge test tonight as they face the Nashville Predators...the same Predators who happen to have the best record in the league. The Predators are 7-2-1 in their last 10 against the Penguins.

The Penguins always seem to have a tough time against Steve Sullivan and Jason Arnott, but they are not the only ones that the 'Guins need to worry about. The Predators have had 14 different players score power play goals this season a testament to their balanced attack. Nashville currently has 8 players with 10 or more goals.

Tonight's probable goaltenders: Marc Andre Fleury for Pittsburgh and Tomas Vokoun for Nashville.


The Eaton Factor

What does former Predator Mark Eaton mean to the Penguins? Well, a look at the standings with and without him is very telling. When Mark Eaton is not in the line-up they are a .500 hockey club. When the steady D-man is in the line-up they are 9 games over.

Without Mark Eaton: 14-14-8
With Mark Eaton: 12-3-1


The Penguins have been getting production across their line-up, something that coach Michel Therrien stressed early in the season. Though Crosby and Malkin can shoulder a pretty big load when it comes to production, they cannot be the only ones scoring. It is no surprise that the team has gotten goals from Jarrko Ruutu, Ronald Petrovicky, Michel Ouellet and Dominic Moore during their 8-0-2 run.

The team has 4 lines that can play the game, and that is what you need in today's NHL.


So You Need a Goon?

The rumors have been running wild about the Penguins being in the market for a goon to protect Sidney Crosby. I don't see them as being true, though it was speculated here that they were in the hunt for Sean Avery.

Ray Shero is not willing to pick up a player who cannot play the game. If he were to bring in a "goon," he would have to be a lot more Bob Probert than Brian McGrattan. People who remember Bob Probert in his prime will understand this comment. Probert had 5 seasons of 14 or more goals...his best being 87-88 when he scored 62 pts (29G 33A) and put up 398 PIMs.

It is hard to utilize a roster spot for a player who doesn't take a regular shift, precisely the reason why Andre Roy was waived earlier this season.

A move will not be made unless the above is part of the equation.



I admit to being very intrigued by this situation. Samsonov was a player I had a lot of interest in during the off season. He is a fast skater who can finish and set up others. He would look nice playing on either of the Penguins top two lines. Crosby could make him a rich man, however he may already be too rich for the Penguins tastes.

My take is that the Penguins take a pass on this one.


Noah Welch has been sent back to Wilkes Barre-Scranton again, his 6th trip back on the season. Ray Shero said that Welch is not getting discouraged. They apparently had a conversation about Welch's role this season and that included being the "insurance" from WBS.


Paralyzer - Finger Eleven.....I cannot get it out of my head. Anyone else having this problem??