Thursday, July 2, 2009
Pen Nation Sits as Scuderi Flocks to Mannywood
All is quiet on New Year's Day, to quote the great U2 song from the 80s. Unfortunately, today was the day after New Year's day, but regardless the Pens were quiet. The last two days Pens fans have watched the giant tree that is Hal Gill leave for the French Canadien hotbed known as Montreal for $2.25/yr. Then only 24 hours later, "the Piece" or Rob Scuderi was signed to a 4 yr/$3.4mil a yr deal with the LA kings. The Pens could only offer him $2.2mil/yr, no more. After failing to sign Scuds, Shero shifted his focus to winger Ruslan Fedotenko. Feds is interested in a 3 yr deal somewhere in the $3mil per yr range. Shero isn't willing to comply with neither the years nor the salary.
So as day 3 approaches the Pens are without a scoring winger for the 2nd line and without a defenseman. Not only that, but our shutdown defensive pairing throughout the season and the playoffs is now gone. I'm referring to Gill and Scuderi. Are they replaceable? Time will soon tell, but I say yes they are. Now the market for defense isn't so widespread now that most of the good ones are gone. Rob Rossi is reporting that Shero is exploring trade options to satisfy the last defensive hole. But trades are hard to come by and it will be interesting to see where that goes. Some free agent defenseman Shero is already talking to include: Nick Boynton (I love this guy), Jay Mckee (injury prone but solid), Martin Skoula (can you say durable?), and Andrew Alberts (hard hitter). All four bring a little something different to the rink. I like Boynton and Alberts the best because I feel like we need some more jam especially on the backend. Not enough toughness outside of Orpik. If you're going for a solid 2-way defenseman, Skoula is the way to go.
On a positive note the Pens did sign enforcer Mike Rupp on Wednesday. This basically guarantees us another Stanley Cup next year, right? Wrong. It could signify that Godard is most likely gone, but that doesn't look to be the case. Only 3 years ago, Rupp was playing in the top 6 for the Devils and playing a big part in hitting people and creating havoc in front of opposing goalies. Reading Shero's presser after the Rupp signing, he wants Rupp to bring that back into his game and not be as much of an enforcer as he has been the past two years. Godard is a heavyweight, Rupp is just heavy. He's 6'5 and 245 lbs, but he can skate and check like no other player at his build. Seeing how scrappy Philly just got with the additions of Laperriere and Pronger (including Asham, Carcillo, Hartnell, and Cote) Shero wanted to get some more jam incase anything breaks out between the two teams. I'm guessing that's one reason they got Rupp, but he's also a terrific faceoff guy, winning slightly over 51% of his draws last year.
With the Rupp signing, does this mean Pascal Dupuis is a goner? Most likely yes. He's our only trade bait if we are to pursue a defenseman via trade. Dupuis is at least a 3rd liner on most teams, but we don't have room for him on any of the top 9. I mean we do, but we won't be winning Stanley Cups if you slide him with Geno on the 2nd line. Look for something juicy to get done tomorrow (Friday). Master Shero is creating his plan and all I ask for you to do is sit patiently and admire the artistic display the Master unravels. Fedotenko should make his decision and it will likely be Minnesota. Kotalik, Tanguay, Kovalev, and Afinigenov are still out there. The last name is a gamble but he might come at a reasonable price.
Get it done RAY!