*Musings & Opinions*
1. DESPRES SHOULD MAKE TEAM REGARDLESS OF NUMBERS GAME
If the Penguins feel Simon Despres is one of their top-6 defensemen, like Dan Bylsma is believed to feel, then Despres should make the team regardless of the numbers game. If Ray Shero is true to this word that the coaching staff will make the call on who they want on D, then mark it down, Despres will open the season in Pittsburgh. The coaching staff wants him on the team. And let’s be honest, the Penguins are not going to miss Brian Strait one bit if they were to lose him on waivers. This team has major questionmarks in their top-4 and you have to find out if Despres can address that.
2. TSN TOP-50
TSN released their Top-50 NHL players list and to no surprise Sidney Crosby took the top spot for the third straight year and Evgeni Malkin was No. 2. Two other Penguins made the top-50. Kris Letang was No. 29 and James Neal was No. 36. On the show tonight they had some interest debates on comparing players on the list and two that stood out were Mike Richards (44) or Jordan Staal (46)? And James Neal (36) or Jamie Benn (39)? Commentators Darren Pang, Mike Johnson took Richards while Aaron Ward took Staal. Give me Staal…….On the Neal – Benn debate, Neal was the consensus with all three picking Neal. However, I would go in the other direction. While Neal is a perfect fit in Pittsburgh with their personnel, if I was building a team I would go with Benn.
3. PIRATES LUCKED OUT WITH LIRIANO INJURY FROM $$$ STANDPOINT
Those outside the Pirates organization will say the Pirates should be thrilled that Francisco Liriano broke his arm, therefore, leading the team to pulling out of their previous 2 year, $12.75 million agreement with Liriano. “What were they thinking anyways,” an industry said about the deal they had in place with Liriano.
4. MONEY SAVINGS FOR NUTTING
The Pirates not tendering Jeff Karstens has ended up being a smart business decision. Karstens projected to make $4 million in arbitration and the Pirates end up getting a savings of about $1.5 million with the one year deal reached with Karstens today. With Hanrahan being shipped out of town, the Liriano deal falling a part, Pirate employees now know why Bob Nutting has been in such a good mood at the office this month.
5. DENVER’S LIMITED WINDOW WITH MANNING
The Denver Broncos should be feeling sick for a while with their choke job against the Ravens Saturday night and they have to be extremely disappointed because of the limited window they have with Peyton Manning. Manning will be 37 in March and while this wasn’t a great team, you can’t go one and done when you’re a No. 1 seed. The Broncos might have one or two more years at most of being a Super Bowl title contender with Manning at the helm.