Yesterday, Jim Rutherford did something I never thought was possible. He somehow unloaded Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick's contracts to the same team. Let's be frank, it didn't matter how he did it but he somehow managed to get both Sheary and Hunwick off the books. Sheary was set to make $3M over the next two seasons while Hunwick was set to make $2.25M over the next two seasons. Yikes. They were sent to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a conditional 2019 4th round draft pick. The pick would become a become a third round selection if Sheary can score 20 goals, tally 40 points, or Matt Hunwick is traded before the 2019 trade deadline. So likely, it will be a fourth round pick.
This trade allowed the Penguins to do what was much needed, free up cap space. Trading both Sheary and Hunwick saved the Penguins $5.25M in cap space. Many of you probably think I have a personal agenda against Conor Sheary. Well, you're right. Granted Sheary was part of two Stanley Cup teams he was a pretty irrelevant player if he wasn't playing with Sidney Crosby. He's generally a 20 goal guy but watching him get to 20 is borderline cringeworthy sometimes and with Daniel Sprong set to join the Penguins on a full-time basis this year, I want him to get as many looks with Crosby as humanly possible. If that's not the case I want Crosby in between Guentzel and Hornqvist at least to start the season. Matt Hunwick, we hardly knew you. But you were pretty bad, to be honest.
Around 2:00PM yesterday Mork Madden (he'll search his name on the Internet he's that petty which is why I purposely misspelled it) reported that the Penguins have a deal in place with free agent defenseman Jack Johnson. It's believed to be a five year deal (yikes) with an average annual value (AAV) around $3-3.5M. He cannot actually sign the deal until 12:00PM Sunday when the free agency period technically opens up. Johnson, 31, is coming off the worst season of his career where he was scratched in the playoffs and tallied just three goals and eight assists in 77 games.
I have some thoughts on this move: Most Penguin fans seem to hate it and while five years is a god awful term to give Johnson, keep in mind, Gary Bettman is the commissioner and another lockout is could happen thus making buyout rates easier on players could be a thing. Also, within a year, maybe two, there's going to be an NHL team in Seattle and I'm sure the Penguins could tell Johnson to piss off if he was having a bad year and leave him exposed for the Seattle team to take. Also, it's worth noting former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar has worked wonders with Justin Schultz, Jamie Oleksiak, and Chad Ruhwedel (to an extent). Johnson will turn 32 this winter, however, he was taken just two picks behind Sidney Crosby in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by none other than current Penguins General Manager, Jim Rutherford.
Barring a last minute change, it appears as if Johnson will be a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins next year. He's absolutely going to be a reclamation project and though he was playing top four minutes in Columbus (when he was playing) his role will be much different here. Johnson will be a third pairing defenseman in charge of just eating minutes and not trying to do anything special. If you want Kris Letang to be at his best, he needs to play less, which is something Rutherford has even stated this offseason. TSN Insider Bob McKenize said on TSN690 earlier this offseason he believed Johnson could fetch upwards of $6M on the open market. The Penguins are likely giving him five years to supplement the high AAV, thus bringing it down between $3M-$3.5M. I don't hate the idea. Believe me, the Penguins aren't going to win or lose a Stanley Cup because Jack Johnson is on the team. Keep in mind, Jack Johnson's parents stole all his money and now we have a chance to make jokes for 82 games a season plus playoffs. This is a dream come true for us here at @PensOfAnarchy.
To conclude his busy day, Jim Rutherford was able to re-sign center Riley Sheahan to a 1 year, $2.1M deal. To me, the deal was a bit pricy but the Penguins now have four solid centers down the middle. Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin. Derick Brassard. Riley Sheahan. That's pretty good. Keep in mind, most Penguin fans haven't been able to see Derick Brassard at his full potential due to injuries, visa issues, etc. The Penguins may have the best center depth in the league and keeping Riley Sheahan was an important part of that. He may not show up on the scoresheet nightly but he does a lot of things right.
Rutherford in his press conference yesterday said he expects a deal with restricted free agent Jamie Oleksiak to get done eventually.
As it stands now, the Penguins have $8.1M in cap space to play with. Keep in mind $1,500,000 of that will be subtracted once Daniel Sprong and Dominik Simon are officially listed on the NHL roster. Let's say Jack Johnson makes $3.5M per year (worst case scenario), the Penguins would still have roughly $3,932,500. Assuming Jamie Oleksiak is given a raise and makes $1M per season (his AAV this past season was $875,000), the Penguins would still have roughly $2,182,500 to play with. So essentially, the Penguins have some cap room. The Johnson contract though confirmed, has not officially been signed yet so anything can happen between now and Sunday.
Via Cap Friendly
My wishlist concludes with the Penguins getting speedy winger Michael Grabner and / or forward Anthony Duclair, who has a ton of potential. I want no part of seeing Chris Kunitz back in Pittsburgh. He was good when he was here but that ship has sailed. If the Penguins are trying to get younger than Chris Kunitz is not the move. Hell, Jack Johnson would certainly not be the move if that was the case but you can't want Kunitz back and then not want Jack Johnson, and personally I feel like Johnson would have more upside than Kunitz.
Overall, Jim Rutherford was able to makeup for his horrible offseason last season by dumping two contracts that were vital in freeing up cap space for the Penguins. While the potential / imminent signing of Johnson is a risk, the Penguins are still addressing a need and getting a defenseman. Should Johnson turn it around, and under Sergei Gonchar I believe, the Penguins blue line may be pretty good, hell at least better. As our own @kingling43 said yesterday, the Penguins essentially traded Sheary and Hunwick for Johnson, a 4th or 3rd round draft pick, and cap space. That cap space allowed the Penguins to sign Riley Sheahan. That was a must and I personally bet Sheahan will have a good upcoming season.
-Jack Johnson is B.F.F.'s with Sidney Crosby and they played hockey together at Shattuck St. Mary's.
-Don't bother citing advanced metrics with me regarding Jack Johnson. I know they are bad. But sometimes change can be good.
-Expect Jamie Oleksiak to get a contract in the coming days.
-Tom Kuhnhackl apparently rejected a two-year deal from the Penguins thus making him a free agent. LOL
-He is also poor, his parents stole all his money. Don't believe me, read this (click the word this).
-Keep in mind the Penguins also locked up forward Bryan Rust earlier this week, signing him to a 4 year, $14M deal.
-Rust is the new and better version of Chris Kunitz, as he has the ability to slide up and down every line and play with essentially everyone.
-Free agency officially begins Sunday at noon. I anxiously await your anger and complaints.
-The Penguins aren't trading for Karlsson or signing Tavares so please with all due disrespect, shut the hell up.
-Jim Rutherford has made mistakes, no doubt, but he also won back-to-back Stanley Cups so if you're on the ledge and ready to jump, chill.
Free agency starts Sunday. Buckle up.
Old Posts from our site, heyyyyyfannnssss (4/11-2/15). Cute name, but impossible to remember.