TIOPS DAILY BUZZ
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
— Penguins goaltender Marc Andre Fleury could not be off to a better start as preliminary negotiations between Penguins associate GM Jason Botterill and agent Allan Walsh are underway. Walsh met this weekend in Pittsburgh with the Penguins brass, including GM Jim Rutherford, and a deal could happen quickly.
Rutherford did extensive homework on Fleury this summer and learned how well liked Fleury is by everyone in the organization, including the players. He’s falling into the trap that others in the organization have in the past. Sources say Rutherford believes Fleury is one of the most important players inside the Penguins room and feels going into another direction won’t sit well.
It’s been amazing over the years of how well Fleury has been received by teammates despite woeful playoff performances over the course of the last five years. His playoff falters in the past, notably 2012, 2013, never led to turmoil in the room mainly because Fleury is just a great guy. That doesn’t mean he’s worth committing another long-term contract to in the $5-$6 million range. In fact, unless you have a Henrik Lundqvist, Tuukka Rask, no goaltender is worth $5 million +.
What will be telling is whether the Penguins fall into the trap of giving Fleury a deal that sets him up to retire a Penguin. Rutherford prefers a shorter term deal in the three to four year range worth around $6 million per season.
— The James Neal – Patric Hornqvist trade has a chance to become a great one for both teams. The Predators got the type of player they absolutely needed, who can win a game with one shot, and the Penguins got the type of player they needed. However, at the end of the day, Nashville is going to win this trade because of the Predators dumping Nick Spaling to Pittsburgh. What a bad player at $2.2 million per season. Executives were shocked over the summer Pittsburgh didn’t land one of the Predators second round picks in the Neal trade.
— Ben Roethlisberger has gone from 50-1 odds in the summer to win the MVP award to now 6-1 odds. Roethlisberger deserves to be right in the mix but too much focus is always on the quarterback. What about Antonio Brown or Rob Gronkowski, two dynamic game changers? As good as Ben has been the past two weeks, Brown has been the Steelers best and most consistent player all season. He’s a having remarkable season.