The Pittsburgh Penguins search for a new General Manager is shaping up as Fox Sports net is reporting former New York Rangers GM Neil Smith is the front runner to replace the departed Craig Patrick. Other names in the running are Steve Tambellini, Ray Shero and agent Pat Brisson. The search is expected to heat up this week and a announcement on Patrick’s replacement could be announced by the end of next week. Mark Cuban’s named has also surfaced once again about forming investors together to buy the franchise. This would be the best case scenario for the Pens as Cuban will take a minority stake because unlike the investors from Hartford and KC, Cuban will do his best to keep the team here in the burgh. Contrary to what CEO Ken Sawyer says, no one is going to buy this team until the slots license is awarded.
Others Penguin news:
Niklas Nordgren and Jani Rita have both signed contracts overseas,which is probaly a good thing. Nordgren was brought over in the Recchi trade, didn’t show much but really wasn’t given a chance as he was mostly on fourth line duty. Rita showed some speed and played on Crosby’s line for about a week, but the final stretch of the season he found himself in 4th line duty and ended the season in Therien’s doghouse.
My take: I ve read on a few Penguins message boards through out the season that some boneheads who think they know hockey talk about how much talent Jani Rita has and how he could be a strong candidate to play with Malkin. You’ve got to be kidding! In the end the guy brought nothing to the table and the loss of Rita, Nordgren is a good thing because it clears about 1 million in salary and two more spots for players who will actually help the team not hurt it.
The Bucco’s actually won a few games and took 2 out of 3 from the Reds which was an encouraging sign but todays 9-8 loss after losing a 6 run lead shows this team is not about to turn the corner. I’m a big believer that Oliver Perez will turn it around and he showed some promise with a strong performance Wednesday night but the key for Perez is if he brings the same velocity and control to his next start. If Perez does get out of his year long funk don’t be surprised to hear trade rumors heating up in the coming months because i don’t see the Bucco’s keeping him long term. Despite his lackluster performance i think it would be a major mistake trade him away but for the Pirates sake how could you blame them for looking into what they could get for him.
Check in Saturday Morning for my Eastern and Western Conference Finals predictions and four mid level free agents who could put Penguins back in the playoffs.