The Daily Five
1. Penguins GM Ray Shero and his staff are still a few weeks away from laying out a blueprint for the off-season and free agency. It’s a little early to speculate but with not a lot of cap space and a weak forward market, all signs continue to point to the Penguins kind of standing pat and resigning their own.
This past season, Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, and Evgeni Malkin only played together for two games. The Penguins believed they had a Cup team in the making after revamping their blueline and establishing a defensive “mindset” that was missing in 2009-2010.
The sense is the team is likely to only make minor “tweaks” to the roster this off-season and bank on having Crosby, Staal and Malkin healthy for a full season behind their improved defensive play.
2. Speaking of Crosby, Malkin, and Staal. The feeling around the team is that 2011-2012 could be a pivotal season for the future of this group. Obviously Crosby isn’t going anywhere but here’s a few things to ponder:
The Penguins reached the Cup Finals in 2007-2008 with Crosby, Malkin and Staal on their entry level deals. The Penguins won the Cup in 2008-2009 with Malkin and Staal still on their entry level deals.
Since all three players have been off their entry level deals and taking up substantial amount of cap space, the Penguins have not advanced past the second round of the playoffs but obviously this model gets an incomplete grade because of the injuries this past season.
Building a Cup team once all three players were off their entry level deals was going to be Ray Shero’s biggest task as General Manager and it is.
With Jordan Staal scheduled for free agency following the 2012-2013 season, the summer of 2012 is going to be the time for management to fully evaluate the three center model.
My feeling is that eventually moving Staal is the route to go and at somepoint in the near future, the Penguins are going to finally have to maximize the abilities of Crosby and Malkin with top-6 wingers.
As valuable as Staal might be, I just never see him developing into a true top-2 line center and the role of a shutdown centerman is over-rated in today’s hockey.
Staal’s next contract could very well push $5 million per season and finding or developing third line centers is much easier than finding another Evgeni Malkin who many like to tab as the odd-man out once Crosby, Staal and Malkin are up for their next contracts.
3. Anyone connected to the Pirates is taking the chance to vehemently deny the report from Yahoo.com that high school pitcher Dylan Bundy told them not to select him. I’m not buying it. However, it’s a moot point because the Pirates are not taking him anyways.
4. Twitter continues to be a dangerous avenue for athletes and the latest was Pirates 2009 1st round pick Tony Sanchez. Sanchez is a good kid and has a great personality but the Pirates were right to discipline him for making remarks about the umpires following a game.
You just can’t do that.
The team suspended/benched him for three games due to the remarks and Sanchez was told by Frank Coonelly to be professional.
5. The Hennepin County medical examiner announced that the death of NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard resulted from mixing alcohol and oxycodone, which is a poweful pain-killer. The death was ruled accidental. Boogaard’s family released a statement today.
“We would like to express our appreciation for the outpouring of love and support for our family during this difficult period as we grieve the loss of Derek – our son and brother. We are deeply saddened by this unimaginable loss, but we are grateful for the expression of support that has given us strength as we go through this tragic time.
“It is very comforting for our family to know that, while Derek’s life was far too short, he had a great impact on many people who he came into contact with. We are proud that Derek was able to live his boyhood dream to play in the National Hockey League. We are even more proud of the fact that Derek was dedicated to making a difference in his adopted communities of Minnesota and New York City, through his countless hours of charitable work.
“Earlier today, we received the results of Derek’s toxicology report at the time of his accidental death. After repeated courageous attempts at rehabilitation and with the full support of the New York Rangers, the NHLPA, and the NHL, Derek had been showing tremendous improvement but was ultimately unable to beat this opponent. While he played and lived with pain for many years, his passion for the game, his teammates, and his community work was unstoppable.
“Our family would like to like to thank the New York Rangers, the Minnesota Wild, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, and the National Hockey League for supporting Derek’s continued efforts in his battle.
“Derek will be greatly missed and will never be forgotten by his fans, friends, and teammates, and especially by us – his family. We respectfully ask for continued privacy as we grieve the loss of Derek.”