TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. All this talk for months of the Penguins determined to sign a few Russians is coming to fruition as the Penguins have a verbal agreement in place with 25 year old winger Sergei Plotnikov. For the Penguins it’s a low risk move as there’s no harm in bringing Plotnikov on board.
Plotnikov, 25, is regarded as a hard working very physical forward who has some offensive tools and good hockey sense, but is not a fast skater and his skating is considered a major weakness. Plotnikov had 15 goals and 36 points in 56 games for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL this season. He had a goal and assist in 10 games for Russia in the World Championships.
Plotnikov has 68 goals and 146 points in 300 career KHL games.
Getting some feedback on Plotnikov today from scouts who have seen Plotnikov at the World Championships the last couple years, there was lots of praise for his work ethic, physical demeanor and hockey sense. However, the consensus is Penguin fans and the local media should pump the brakes on the top-6 talk that the Penguins have found a winger for Malkin because they likely haven’t, those in the know say.
Many players from KHL who come over in their mid 20’s end up failing at the NHL level than succeeding. The Janne Pesonen’s, Damien Brunner’s, it’s a long list.
However, one scout I spoke with pointed out what should help Plotnikov be a player that can come in and compete for a roster spot at the NHL level is the size/physical play/compete level he brings to the table. He doesn’t have the offensive skills that Brunner, others have had, but he has some traits you seek in a bottom-6 player where he has a chance, though, there’s a strong consensus he’s unlikely to transition into an NHL top-6 winger. “Very small chance,” one scout said.
2. With all this Russian talk, the big fish the Penguins missed out on was Artem Panarin who signed with Chicago and flashed star potential at the World Championships. If the Penguins would have been able to to sign Panarin and college defenseman Mike Reilly it would have been an A+ off-season for the Penguins before free agency even started.
Even with the expected signing of Plotnikov, the Penguins have also been focusing on Viktor Tikhonov in recent weeks, the Coyotes first round pick in 2008 (28th overall). Tikhonov is close friends with Plotnikov as the two have told close associates they planned to sign with the same team. We’ll see. The Coyotes own Tikhonov’s rights until July 1.
Tikhonov, though, is now 27 and unlike Plotnikov who has to sign an entry level contract because of the CBA since he is 25, Tikhonov doesn’t have to meaning there will be more risks financially from the Penguins end.
He’s seeking a 1-way contract and made $3.3 million in the KHL this season.
Tikhonov had 8 goals and 24 points in 49 games for St. Petersburg SKA this season. In the post-season he had 2 points in 15 games.
Tikhonov has the first round pedigree but his upside several years ago had always been more of a quality two-way third liner who could step into a top-6 role if needed.
After three seasons with the Coyotes organization, he left for the KHL for the start of the 2011-2012 season.
Penguin fans expecting Plotnikov or Tikhonov to be game changers and 30 goal scorers are going to be disappointed.
Some in scouting circles feel Tikhonov’s hockey IQ, two-way play should give him an opportunity to play a bottom-6 role in the NHL in the right situation, maybe evolve into a quality versatile third line player, but with these guys there’s just such an unknown. The skating ability for both Tikhonov and Plotnikov are among the red flags.
The Russian narrative is always interesting as these mostly career KHL players who come over in their mid-20’s are often over-hyped especially locally now with this fixation that adding a Russian is going to make Evgeni Malkin more committed to the defensive zone.
Is Jim Rutherford adding Plotnikov and potentially Tikhonov because he truly feels they have a chance to be something at the NHL level or is he signing them because they are Russian to make his bosses happy. — A little bit of both mostly likely —
3. The possibility of Penguins trading Beau Bennett this summer has been viewed as the Penguins selling low or would it be?
Bennett is a name the Penguins are getting asked about in trade talks much more so than around the trade deadline, Inside Pittsburgh Sports has learned, which has even surprised some in the organization after Bennett garnered zero interest at the deadline. Could he have more value to other teams?
It won’t be surprise if Bennett becomes a chip in a trade offer for Patrick Sharp as the Blackhawks have been fond of players like Bennett, Kris Versteeg a good example.
4. The NHL is adopting 3-on-3 overtime, something the players pushed for. It’s going to be great entertainment but the NHL is still failing by not fixing the points system. A 3-on-3 overtime win or shootout win shouldn’t equal a regulation win. Here are the official details:
*Teams play an additional overtime period of not more than five (5) minutes with the team scoring first declared the winner and being awarded an additional point.
*The overtime period will be played with each team at 3-on-3 manpower (plus goaltender) for the full five-minute period.
*Manpowers during overtime will be adjusted to reflect the situation in the game, but at no time will a team have fewer than three (3) skaters on the ice during the overtime period. For example, if a team enters the overtime period on a power play, manpower would be adjusted from 5 on 4 at the end of regulation to 4 on 3 at the start of overtime. If a minor penalty is assessed during overtime, the teams will play 4 on 3. If a second minor penalty is assessed to the same team during overtime, the teams will play 5 on 3.
*If the game remains tied at the end of the five (5) minute overtime period, the teams will proceed to a three-round shootout. After each team has taken three shots, if the score remains tied, the shootout will proceed to a “sudden death” format.
* Clubs who pull their goaltender for an extra attacker during the overtime period (other than on a delayed penalty) will be subject to the potential forfeiture of their one (1) point earned for the tie at the end of regulation in the event the opposing team scores into the empty net.
*At the end of regulation, the entire ice surface will be shoveled and the goalies will change ends. There will be no further ice surface maintenance during the balance of overtime period. Following the overtime period and before the shootout, the ice surface will be shoveled again, and the goalies will change ends.
5. Corey Hart has been placed on the 15-DL due to shoulder pain. At first glance it appears to be one of those situations where the Pirates are putting a struggling player on the DL until they figure out what to do with him, but the Pirates publicly and privately say Hart is actually hurt.
“After yesterday talking with him, we feel this is the proper time to get him some rest and to get it right,” Clint Hurdle said this afternoon.