Time for Pittsburgh Penguins Rumors to Begin: Who Will Stay, Who Will Go?
I knew that if the Blackhawks won, Sidney Crosby would no longer be the defending captain to hoist the Cup.
They won the coveted prize—that's a given.
But now they were in the past. It is the Chicago Blackhawks' turn.
Well, I also knew that I was sick of this season.
Since the Penguins were booted out of the playoffs by the Canadiens, I have wanted the season to be done.
If I sound sour, it's because I am.
Just like every other hockey fan who had their wishes crushed.
The way the Flyers' fans feel right now is how Pens fans felt in 2008, watching the Red Wings hoist the Cup.
Every losing team either comes back strong or shrinks.
Now that the Flyers have experienced the Stanley Cup Final, I see them competing hard next year.
Now about those Blackhawks...
For a long time, people have salivated at the chance to have a Penguins vs. Blackhawks final. I'm one of them.
I would definitely be pulling for the Penguins to win, but the Blackhawks are my No. 2 team.
But there's one problem with the Blackhawks' scheme: There isn't enough cap room to keep the same team.
Last year the Penguins were perfect down the center with reliable defensemen and wingers who scored. Oh, and also the best third line in the game.
Well, the Penguins lost two huge defense partners in Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi. Those two losses were seen throughout the year and definitely in the playoffs.
The Blackhawks are in the same boat.
You will see why Ray Shero does not do long-term deals. He knows that a player might not be what he's worth through the years, or even worse, he'll be injured.
Take Brian Campbell, for example. He isn't even a first or second line-type defenseman, but he's getting paid over $7 million from the Blackhawks.
Look for them to try to get him traded, but that probably won't happen.
Most of the players are getting paid well over what they would on another team.
The organization did amazingly to get players of this caliber, but now that they have a Cup win, look for a downfall in their production.
Now on to the Penguins and what will be a few exciting weeks ahead.
Inside Penguins Hockey said talks with Matt Cooke have heated up this week, so look for a signing of what I see as three years at $2 million or a little above.
Also, I see Sergei Gonchar's decision coming right before the deadline. I don't see him staying with the Pens, but it's not the end of the world. That's $5 million that we can use to get a winger and defenseman.
It's going to come down to a choice between Mark Eaton and Jordan Leopold, and I see the Pens keeping Eaton just because of the chemistry he has with the players. His production has been steady and reliable as well.
Shero has had close ties with Eaton since his time in Nashville, and I don't see him giving up on Eaton, especially if Eaton wants to stay in Pittsburgh.
Now to the ongoing stories of Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Bill Guerin. Shero has shown signs of thinking of re-signing Poni to a new contract, but the fact remains that Alexei didn't even show up for his end of the season meeting. If he's going to have this attitude and not do as he is told, he shouldn't come back. I don't know much about his relationship with the team, but it's obvious he has a sour persona.
Rumors were circulating that some of the players were being scratched from games instead of Fedotenko. It started a slight controversy in the locker room with players not seeing the potential of Fedotenko playing over someone like a Max Talbot or Mike Rupp.
Guerin seems to be headed back to Pittsburgh for his last year in the NHL. Look for him to become a big fixture in the press box alongside Mario Lemieux and Gary Roberts. He'll be one of the ones in 20 years to walk down the Consol Center in his No. 13 jersey waving to the crowd as they call his name.
Retire his jersey—just saying.
Guerin has done something that is difficult to do. He came in when the Penguins needed a lift and brought the word "leadership" to a whole new level. What he has done for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal, all in their early twenties, is something to talk about...for a long time.
He's special, and seeing him play his last year in the NHL in a Penguins jersey is going to be emotional for everyone, especially if he is holding up the Cup for the third and last time.
So basically, now that the season is over, and I'm glad it is, we can start the rumor mill of who is going in and who's going out.
I do know that rumblings have been circulating about Colby Armstrong being a target but for less money than what he is making this year. If Gonchar is gone, look for that rumor to get closer and closer to truth.
I see Guerin, Cooke, and Eaton staying with Poni, Feds, and Leopold leaving.
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