TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. As the Penguins will begin their pro scouting meetings in the next week, a message Jim Rutherford has already put out to this staff is to find another Patric Hornqvist this summer. The Penguins want to add a big bodied winger who can dominate the corners/front of the net and open space for Evgeni Malkin.
Don’t be surprised to see Bryan Bickell’s name linked to the Penguins heading into draft weekend. Bickell with two years, $8 million ($4 million AAV) left on his contract, is on the move this summer due to the Blackhawks cap situation. Despite the inconsistencies in Bickell’s game, Penguin scouts love Bickell’s size and puck possession ability and it’s expected Bickell will be among the pro scouts top recommendations of players to pursue.
2. The Penguins have told Beau Bennett they want him coming into camp close to 212 pounds, that’s if he’s even a Penguin. It’s wishful thinking on the Penguins end. Management was disappointed last summer in Bennett opting against training with Gary Roberts as Bennett wanted to go home and rehab his wrist. A source says the team is pushing for Bennett to change his training regiment drastically and are hopeful he takes their recommendation of training with Roberts this summer. We’ll see. The team was very blunt with at the end of the season that his commitment off the ice has to change.
3. Don’t look for a reunion between Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma in New Jersey. Shero wants to go in another direction as does Bylsma who strongly covets the Sabres opening and now to a lesser the extent the Sharks opening. Both made it clear to each other when they met at the World Championships that it’s not an ideal fit for both sides. Buzz among NHL executives is the Devils job is going to become a two horse race between former Wilkes Barre coaches John Hynes and Todd Reirden.
4. The Charlie Morton on the mound Monday night was the Morton of 2013. Morton looked like his old self and if this ends up becoming a sign of things to come and the Pirates get the 2013 Morton and not the 2012 and 2014 Morton, then things change drastically for the Pirates. “That was the best I’ve felt in a while,” Morton said after yesterday’s win.” Even last year, the second half of last year, it was a struggle mechanically. That’s what I’ve been working on for a month.”
5. The Pirates have climbed back to .500 at 22-22. The good news for the Pirates is this is not a deep National League by any means.
When you breakdown the National League past the 40 game mark, there’s only six teams to buy-in that they’re playoff contenders:
Nationals in NL East, Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs in NL Central, Dodgers and Giants in NL West.