One day before the NHL and it’s a lot different for Penguins fans this time around then last year. Last July it was obvious who the Penguins were picking as they won the sweepstakes to superstar Sidney Crosby. This year it’s a bit different with no Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin in the draft. Despite this draft being without a Crosby type player, there are still franchise caliber players in Defenseman Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal and possibly Phil Kessel. So what will the Penguins do: Keep the pick or trade the pick ? I’ll give you the answer a day before it goes down.

Now to the legitimate rumors….

For the past two weeks media circuits have been reporting the Carolina Hurricanes have offered Michigan defenseman ( #3 overall pick in 2005) to the Penguins for the #2 pick to draft Jordan Staal., Kevin Allen of USA Today and Kyle Woodlief of red line report reported that Jack Johnson will become a Penguin tomorrow afternoon.
DePaoli’s take: – Crosby and Johnson are close friends and the deal makes sense for the Penguins who still don’t have that #1 caliber defenseman in their system. If i’m the Hurricanes I don’t make this deal. With Staal upfront, Ward behind the pipes and then Jack Johnson a future Pronger type defenseman. That’s a strong core. This deal is on the table though and has been offered but for this deal to most likely happen the Penguins want Justin Williams thrown in the deal but the Hurricanes are trying to get rid of big center Josef Vasicek and his 1.3 million salary instead. Chances of happening 60%

KFXN-AM 690 reported a few days ago that the Minnesota Wild are interested in moving up into the top 5 and have contacted the Bruins and Penguins about such a move. Their bargaining chip is talented right winger Pierre-Marc Bouchard ( 17-42-59)and their #9 pick.
DePaoli’s take: Bouchard is a skilled player but he is not a true goal scorer so if I’m the Pens IM not to interested in this offer. reported that the Florida Panther offered Jay Bouwmeester to the Penguins for the #2 pick .
DePaoli’s take – This is another offer if it really is on the table than Ray Shero has to have some interest. Bouwmeester 6ft4 220 23yrs old has the potential to be the #1 caliber defenseman the Penguins covet. Florida is trying their best to get into the top three to select Jordan Staal who Mike Keenan is very high on (Source Miami Sentential)This rumor has legs but how interested are the Penguins is the big question where Bouwmeester is eligible for UFA in three years.

Slam sports a Canadian website also has reported that the Nashville Predators have offered prospect Shea Weber for the 2nd overall pick. Weber is a highly touted defeseman whose ready for the NHL but he is not even in Jack Johnsons class. Please no discount from your former team Shero..

Updated Saturday morning ….. Pronger to the Pens ?
Eklund of has just reported that the Oilers are talking to the Penguins about the possibility of trading defenseman Chris Pronger to the Penguins for the #2 pick. This is very interesting but how true is this rumor. Well find out later today around 6.
DePaoli’s take: Does this deal make sense. Pronger will be making 6.25 million for the next 4 years. the Penguins have 15.5 million committed to players for next yr with about 17-20 million to spend between now and the beginning of the season. The question is what is Shero’s plan? If he’s building for the present and future then you make this deal. Pronger will put the Penguins back in the playoffs within 2 yrs but if Shero’s plan is to take his time and build for the future then you keep the pick or make the trade for Jack Johnson.

The craziest rumor of the day. I saw on ( a very good site check it out if u haven’t before) that some Canadian website reported that for the Penguins to jump up to #1 St.Louis wants Malkin. Umm end of disscussion. If the Penguins would even think about that I would be calling Monday morning and canceling my season tickets.

Other news….

Alexander Ovechkin wins Rookie of the year. No surprise here as Ovechkin was the favorite to win it. Ovechkin was a slight level above Crosby for the most part of the year but by the end of the season i felt Crosby caught him up. After Crosby’s performance at WC’s it seems like Sid the Kid is going to have a monster season. Even without seeing who the Pens bring in through free agency im predicting 51 goals – 77 assists – 128 pts next season.

Morozov after all does have a escape clause in his contract. Two days ago he was saying he was staying in Russia, now he is changing his tune. Shero has contacted his agent and i would like to see him come back and i feel Patrick made a mistake playing hardball with him and not offering him a contract. a 2yr deal around 1.8 -2 mill a year is all the Penguins will offer. If he does come back to the NHL it will most likely be with the Rangers.

Now to my surprise pick for tommorow….. ” The kid has blazing speed and is Michael Jordan with the puck”

With the 2nd overall pick the Pittsburgh Penguins select Phil Kessel……