When former Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Craig Patrick (1989–2006) was fired in April of 2006, there was a notion in league circles that the “game” had past Patrick by.
More than three years later, that notion continues to follow Patrick.
The architect of two Stanley Cup Championships in Pittsburgh, has been aggressive in getting back into a front office occupation.
Despite a number of GM openings around the league over the past 2-3 years, Patrick has not been on the short-list of any GM positions and according to sources has only been sought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning in a consultant role.
Patrick went through some tough years during the Penguins rebuilding process (2002-2006), which he has not been able to over-come and other reasons have played a factor in teams shying away from Patrick.
But, the former GM made a number of key draft picks, which has led to the Penguins being a Stanley Cup contender year in and year out.
Aside from the no brainer selection of Sidney Crosby in the 2005 entry draft, many of Patrick’s under-rated draft picks like Max Talbot, Kris Letang, Tyler Kennedy and Alex Goligoski get over-looked, along with the early selections of star players Marc Andre Fleury and Evgeni Malkin.
The Fleury and Malkin selections were not as easy as they may seem.
In the 2003 entry draft, Pittsburgh held the #3 overall selection and when the organization decided that a franchise goaltender was the key to the rebuilding process, Pittsburgh traded up and drafted Fleury with the 1st overall selection.
After missing out on the Alexander Ovechkin sweepstakes in 2004, Evgeni Malkin was the consensus No. 2 pick in the 2004 entry draft but not to the point that he would be on par with Ovechkin.
Pittsburgh received a number of trade inquires and even considered a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks who held the 3rd overall pick in the 2004 entry draft.
Let’s also not forget about the signing of Sergei Gonchar following the lockout.
Three in a half years later, Patrick is still making his mark on the franchise and just maybe, all of the talk that the “game” has past him by is not warranted.
Patrick deserves his dues for the Penguins current success but the chances of him getting into the game as a General Manager remain slim.
Key Draft Picks
*D Brooks Orpik – 2000 Entry Draft 1st (18th overall)
*C/RW Max Talbot – 2002 Entry Draft 8th (234th overall)
*G Marc Andre Fleury – 2003 Entry Draft 1st (1st overall)
*C Evgeni Malkin – 2004 Entry Draft 1st (2nd overall)
*D Alex Goligoski – 2004 Entry Draft 2nd (61st overall)
*RW Tyler Kennedy – 2004 Entry Draft 4th (99th overall)
*C Sidney Crosby – 2005 Entry Draft 1st ( 1st overall)
*D Kris Letang – 2005 Entry Draft 3rd (62nd overall)
Key Free Agent Signing
*D Sergei Gonchar (5 years worth $25 million)
Letang Contract Talks
One reason for no movement on the Kris Letang front is that Letang holds all the power. Letang’s camp has made it known that a starting point in talks will begin at $3.5 – $4 million per season. There’s no urgency from either side at this time.
Pittsburgh is exploring all of their options and have an interest in taking care of Sergei Gonchar first, which won’t happen until after the new year, before moving on Letang.
Pittsburgh approached Letang’s camp with a four year offer worth $11.5 million in August which was rejected and not countered.