Hello. It's been awhile, how have you been? We've been great, I know you've been dying to know what we've been up to over the last couple months, since we haven't written anything in awhile. Well, now you don't have to worry about us, because we're going to tell you what we've been up to.
Over the last two months, we've been reminiscing over the Penguins becoming the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings. We've acknowledged how awesome the Penguins are, how Chris Kunitz should have a spot on Mount Rushmore for scoring two goals in Game Seven versus Ottawa to send us to the Stanley Cup Finals, and how Phil Kessel is now a two-time Stanley Cup champion. All of those things have been magical and we haven't written much because, to be honest, we're still popping bottles of champagne and celebrating nightly. We're the best.
Even though the Penguins still need to acquire a third line center, and hell, even a fourth line center at this point, I thought, why not look ahead to the 2017-18 season. Now, let's be real. We here at Pens of Anarchy didn't start getting emotionally invested in games last season until after February. I believe our own @bobbles412 said it best, "the Stadium Series game is when I'll start caring." Trust us, we're diehard fans, but we're not getting hyped and writing an unbelievable gameday post for a mid-November game against Buffalo. That's not how we roll. We just came off back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, so to say we'll be dealing with a championship hangover is an understatement. They should give us Stanley Cup rings to celebrate our blogging / internet victories.
However, unlike last season when the Penguins lost only Ben Lovejoy and 'Glass Bones' Beau Bennett, there has been a lot more roster turnover heading into the new season. The Penguins said goodbye to some players you hated, and some you loved, most notably goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who Vegas selected as their expansion pick.
The Penguins also said goodbye to four-time Stanley Cup winner Chris Kunitz, who scored two goals in Game Seven if you didn't know, Nick Bonino, who you know has a rich history with us here at Pens of Anarchy, Matt Cullen (Dad), Trevor Daley, Ron Hainsey, and most importantly (heavy sarcasm) Oskar Sundqvist.
Though the Penguins are still in the market for a solid third line center and the off season is far from over, they have made a few moves over the summer. Most of the moves were in house, such as resigning RFA defenseman Justin Schultz to a 3 year, $16.5M deal. Along with Schultz, the Penguins also resigned RFA defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a 6 year, $24.1M deal and RFA forward Conor Sheary, who falls down when you touch him, to a 3 year, $9M deal. The Penguins also signed RFA forwards Jean-Sabastien Dea and Tom Sestito (thank god) to one-year deals. Most notably, during the 2017 NHL Draft, the Penguins sent a 2017 first round pick (31st overall) and center Oskar Sundqvist to the St. Louis Blues for enforcer, winger, world hero, humanitarian, and all-around good guy, Ryan Reaves. Many people were not a fan of the move, which in turn made me a bigger fan of the move.
As of this very second, the Penguins have just over $3.2M in cap space to play with, per Cap Friendly. With the loss of Matt Cullen, the Penguins probably saved themselves in excess of $1M. It really helps that backup goaltender Antti Niemi took just $50,000 over league minimum to backup Matt Murray this year. Let's not get it twisted, over the last couple years Niemi was not good in Dallas, but I definitely thought he'd fetch more than $700,000 on the market.
I'm not going to lie, I'm all aboard the Tyler Bozak hype train. I want him. Tyler Bozak is currently in the last year of a five year contract with Toronto that he signed back in 2013. Bozak is owed $4.2M this season, and I absolutely think the Penguins should make a run. Now, I do suck at math, but I know his $4.2M is more than the $3.28M the Penguins have available to spend, which would require A.) moving some salary in order to fit Bozak under the cap or B.) the Leafs retaining salary, which we all know they did with Kessel. Let's just say, if we had to move some salary, I would personally drive whichever player we decided to move to Toronto in favor of Bozak.
Last season with the Leafs, Bozak recorded 18 goals and 37 assists for a total of 55 points. To me, and I'm no expert, his #FancyStats look good for a third line center. Here's Bozak's numbers comparable to your standard third line center. Obviously it depends on IF the Leafs want to move Bozak and if they do, what the cost would be, but I'm absolutely a fan.
Also...Bozak and Phil are BFF's. Do itttttt.
So let's say the Leafs retain salary on Bozak or we give up a jabroni to fit him under the cap...
Sheary - Crosby - Guentzel
Hornqvist - Malkin - Kessel
Hagelin - Bozak - Rust
Wilson / Kuhnhackl - Rowney - Reaves
Maatta - Letang
Cole - Schultz
Dumoulin - Hunwick
I'm a big time fan of that lineup, to be honest.
Say the Penguins do not land Bozak or even a third line center until sometime during the season... Carter Rowney would likely be your third line center which after the way he performed in the playoffs, I'd at least give him a shot. The fact that he only has 27 NHL games on his resume scares me, but it'd be a short-term fix. So say Rowney is your third line center...without acquiring anyone else your fourth line center candidates could be Jean-Sabastien Dea, who has just one game of NHL experience, Josh Archibald who can slide into a center position if need be, Tom Kuhnhackl, Zach Aston-Reese (if he makes the team), and recent PTO invitee Jay McClement, who has a career faceoff percentage of just over 52%.
Lord knows what will actually shake down over the next few weeks but this is a miniature season preview. I'm fairly confident the Penguins will bring in another center prior to camp, which should start the first or second week of September. All I know is that I'm still on #JagrWatch as he still somehow remains unsigned. So GMJR, if you're reading my post right now... please sign Jagr.
The Penguins open the preseason Tuesday, September 19th in Buffalo.
Old Posts from our site, heyyyyyfannnssss (4/11-2/15). Cute name, but impossible to remember.