Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Talbot out 4-5 months...What happens on wing? Plus UFA rumors
Bad news has finally reached Pens nation, as game 7 hero Max Talbot will miss 4-5 months of hockey beginning now. RDS reported last week of the possibility of Max missing time, and his blog made mention of it as well. Max will miss the first month of the season (October) and likely miss some time in November. He'll be recovering from shoulder surgery which he had today at UPMC, and it was very successful. After Petr Sykora's failure to do anything offensively/defensively in the last quarter of the season and the first couple games of Round 1 vs. Philly, Max was inserted onto the 2nd line alongside Geno and Feds. He fit right in. He provided grit, energy, great defense, and clutch scoring. His presence and his lively lockerroom personality will be missed for the first month but the Pens will be just fine, I assure you.
Last year Crosby and Fleury were both injured for the majority of the season, but it was Geno Malkin who emerged as a superstar and Ty Conklin's superb goaltending helped ride the Pens to the top of the Eastern Conference. This year it was a little different. Ryan Whitney was injured for the first couple months and the Pens were doing well without him and Gonch. But as time wore on, the absence of Gonch on the power play and his calming presence proved hard to cope without for the Pens. But a coaching change, a couple trades, and a Gonch recovery later, the Pens were on fire once again.
Sure we hate to see Max not play the first month, but the Pens are deep. Highly touted prospect Luca Caputi, will get a strong look in training camp and on the 2nd line. He showed signs of offensive skill in the few games that he played for the Pens this year. If he can get a little bigger/faster, he'll be a great player. Talbot's injury also diminishes the likelihood that Shero will trade Dupuis. Dupuis has proved in his short tenure as a Pen that he can play on all 4 lines. He's a great defensive player and brings a lot of attributes that Max does: speed, energy, grit, and sometimes skill. His hands are beyond atrocious and can't even compare to Max's, but he's still a useful player to have.
What defenseman is Shero targeting?
Shero has been looking into a number of guys the past week. Two names that continue to come up are Jay Mckee and Nick Boynton. The St. Louis Blues have elected to buyout Mckee's contract, so they'll be paying for most of it anyways. Mckee is a great shot blocker and can play physical as well. He had a great career as a Sabre but since signing with the Blues he's continually been injured and hasn't found his mojo yet. Boynton had a shaky relationship last year with Coach Deboer of the Fla Panthers, but he plays with an edge and can play the point on the power play. He stands up for his teammates and always makes his presence felt. If the Pens can get Mckee for $1.2-1.6 mil, it would be a great pickup.
A couple other guys Shero is looking at are Andrew Alberts and Alexei Semenov. Alberts is a mean nasty type guy who I love watching play. He played for Philly last year and he rocked Hartnell from behind as a member of the Bruins a couple years ago. If we could get him for $1-1.3 mil, he'd be worth it. Semenov is a huge/physical guy who loves to fight as well although he's not too good at it. He's similar to Hal Gill but he's more agile and moves faster than Gill. The Pens need to get nastier from the blueline but also get someone who can play sound defense. Greg De Vries could be the answer there. But he's 36, Semenov and Alberts are younger, as are the other two guys. Mark Eaton will be on the shutdown defensive pairing, and it would be nice to get a guy like Alberts who played well against the Pens this year or a guy like Boynton who has experience and is capable of matching up against other big players.
We should see a signing very soon, stay tuned on PensBuzz...