I apologize for this horribly written post, but I don’t have a lot of time:
Let me start off by saying thank god he wasn’t traded for Shea Weber, which would have solved a lot of the Pens defensive issues while giving them another long term cap friendly deal, opening up space for $2M worth of players each season.
Today Evgeni Malkin signed an 8 year, 76M contract extension with the Penguins, for an AAV of approve 9.5M. Given Crosby’s 8.7M contract, James Neal’s 5M contract, and Paul Martin’s 5M contract, the Pens have about 28M of the 63.3M cap set aside for four players, not including Marc-Andre Fleury, who I assume will be traded our bought out. While it’s possible Fleury will be back on the team, I just don’t see how you can go back to him again. Also, Letang and Sutter need to be re-signed.
While the Pens certainly have the big names and the star power under contract, filling out the rest of their roster without any moves is gonna take a lot of magic by Ray Shero. Basically, the whole team will have to be at the veteran minimum or on an ELC…which makes the choice to trade this year’s #1 look poor in hindsight, though I wouldn’t criticize them for “going for it.” At the time I’m sure Pens fans were really excited about the moves, and rightfully so. When your team goes for it at the deadline, it’s almost always a good move by the GM, especially when you have a team with Crosby and Malkin in their primes.
Assuming the Pens keep Vokoun, and continue to go with cheaper goaltending than Fleury provided (around 3M per season on goalies) and resign Letang at 5.5M, they will still need the cap to go up significantly in order to field a deep, competitive team. Assuming they don’t make a major move to free up salary, it appears the Pens will continue with their current philosophy of star power, finding veterans who will take a discount for a shot at the Cup, and relying heavily on their power play.
Jeff Marek always complains that the new rules and flopping culture is leading toward hockey becoming a special teams game. I agree with him that hockey is in essence a 5v5 game, but there’s not much you can do about it without changing the rules or actually calling some diving penalties. While I can’t blame the Penguins for this strategy, as it’s what their team is built to do, in my opinion teams that skate around trying to draw penalties for the whole game so their dominant power play can score makes for boring hockey.