Pens Big Movers at the Deadline

February 26, 2008

Marian Hossa

 Marian Hossa Takes the Pittsburgh Penguins from very good to hands-down favorite in the NHL’s Eastern Conference


Evidently Penguins GM Ray Shero thinks the Pens are ready to make a run for the Stanley Cup, trading away crowd favorites Colby Armstrong and Erik Christiansen, along side super prospect Angelo Esposito and a first round pick to the Trashers for offensive threat Marian Hossa and right winger Pascal Dupuis, according to the Post-Gazette. The Pens had already addressed their defensive needs by acquiring Hal Gill from Toronto.

There are definitely long term ramifications to the deal, which I will get to shortly, but first I’d like to congratulate my fellow Yinzers on officially boasting the best paper team in hockey. It’s a good feeling to be a favorite to win the cup.

Not that the Pens offense had been sputtering by any means, but the addition of Hossa, who’s vision and abilities will be welcome along side either Sid the Kid or Evgeni Malkin, officially make the Pens the most explosive team in the NHL, if not one of the most explosive ever.Think about it: Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, Sergei Gonchar and Petr Sykora on the same power play unit?!?! That’s three 100 point scorers, the league’s leading power play assist man, and a guy who’s tied for 8th in the NHL in power play goals. That’ll even have Martin Brodeur shaking in his pads.

From what I gather, Dupuis should be capable of filling into Colby Armstrong’s role as far as talent goes, though he’s a bit weaker offensively and doesn’t have the upside or Armstrong — Dupuis will turn 30 near season’s end. The significant downgrade here is in the oft-discussed chemistry department. Armstrong and Crosby were best friends on and off the ice, and though I doubt it will really be that big of a deal, chemistry can be a very big deal in hockey.

As unbelievable as the Hossa deal is, the acquisition of Gill from Toronto is possibly equally as important. The Pens glaring weakness all year besides some inconsistency early on from the offense and goaltending has been the failure of the defensemen to really impact the game. Gill is a shut-down defender, and plays as physical as any defensemen in the NHL. He comes with a reputation of being able to stifle any team’s premiere scorer, and offers the Pens another physical presence in their own zone beyond Brooks Orpik.

The Pens are a much better team right now because of this deal, but two glaring questions have to be answered: Does this deal make the Pens better 3 years from now? And was it worth it to send away 3 quality players, plus 3 draft picks to get back what we did?

The answer to the first question really depends on what the Pens intend to do with Hossa. The 29 year-old winger is in the last year of his contract, and will be an unrestricted free-agent at season’s end. I highly doubt that the Pens will be able to keep Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, and Marc-Andre Fluery all under the cap long-term.

Crosby’s making $8.7 million a year until 2013, and Malkin will be due for a raise into the $7-9 million range sometime between this summer and next. Fluery is making $1.6 million right now, and will get a new deal after this off-season, probably in the $3-4 million range. Either way, when the Pens decide that Marc-Andre is or isn’t the future of the franchise, they will need to dish out $5-7M at least on a solid goal-tender to be competitive long-term.

My guess is Hossa would be due somewhere between $6-7M per year to sign long-term, which I think would be affordable, though I really don’t know enough about the NHL salary system to say for sure that the Pens could make that work.

If the Pens make a good run at the Cup this year, as they should with this squad, and they can resign Hossa long-term, which is a solid maybe, then this deal could go down as a genius move by Shero. I was a huge Erik Christiansen fan, and the fact that Sid and Colby were best buds on and off the ice definitely counts for something. But in the more I look at it, and the more encouraged I feel that the Pens could resign Hossa — as false as the encouragement may be — I really, really like this deal.

If nothing else, it means Lord Stanley could be returning to the ‘Burgh, where it rightfully belongs.

Bucco’s Trade Torres, Recchi Heading South

December 8, 2007

The Pirates have agreed to trade relief pitcher Salomon Torres to the Milwaukee Brewers for a couple of minor league prospects. Torres, the team’s longest tenured player, had been a mainstay in the Pirate bullpen since 2002.

Torres is a perfect fit for Milwaukee, where he will probably get a spot setting up games for new closer Derrick Turnbow. Since losing closer Francisco Cordero and set-up man Scott Linebrink to free-agency, the Brewers have been scrambling to find bullpen depth, and with Torres, it looks like they’ve plugged up one of those holes.

Torres’s disappointing ’07 campaign was a fluke. He spent the entire season very unhappy with management (a.k.a. ex-GM Dave Littlefield). Littlefield somehow “tricked” Torres into signing and undervalued contract, promising to help fund a baseball facility in the Dominican Republic. I don’t know exactly what happened, but for whatever reason Torres was not happy.

Torres’s ’07 is no indication of what Torres can still do. Injuries, alongside his growing feud with the front office, really hindered his performance last season. So long as the injury doesn’t linger, expect Torres to return to his ’06 form, when he was baseball’s most used reliever.

This is a deal the Pirates needed to make at some point, and as far as I’m concerned they did a pretty good job. They pick up a couple of guys who might be dependable bullpen guys in a couple years, and they managed to dump Torres’s 3.5 million dollar salary. Expect to see a few more moves in the coming months designed to simply cut back payroll as GM Neil Huntington keeps trying to clear out some of the garbage that Littlefield has left behind for him.

Mark Recchi
The Penguins waiving of Hall of Famer Mark Recchi signifies a sad day in the life of this Penguins’ fanatic

And now to the sentimental portion of today’s post. The Pen’s tried to waive my all-time favorite Penguin (sorry Alexi Kovalev) Mark Recchi to the minors this week, but the Atlanta Thrashers stepped in and claimed the future Hall of Famer.

Recchi, a part of the 1991 Stanley Cup champion Penguins’ squad, was traded near the end of the 1992 season to Phucking Filly. Two year old Jake balled his eyes out when mommy tried to explain to him why the team traded.

Anyways, its a sad day for Penguin hockey, although the Pens did make the right move in cutting him loose. Also, I was happy to see GM Ray Shero and company gave Recchi all the respect he deserved.

Doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to dearly miss the Recching Ball. I’ll be crying in my dorm for the next few days if anybody needs to find me.