TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Look for lots of talk over the next 5-6 weeks of this being the summer of Evgeni Malkin — What that means in the team wanting to take care of Malkin. A source said that’s priority number 1 for Jim Rutherford.
The Penguins want to get Malkin a winger who they feel he’ll be comfortable with on the ice and off the ice. They missed that opportunity last summer in not having the stomach to go into the four year, $4 million range for Nikolai Kulemin who ended the season in New York playing with John Tavares on the top line and is in his 20’s, with size and speed. That’s a player you gamble on giving a four year contract.
2. Many coaches, GM’s, executives are gathered at the World Championships and one rumor making the rounds out there in NHL circles is the Penguins will have legit interest
in Alex Semin this summer, though, some key logistics will have to play out such as a buy-out or Hurricanes keeping 40-50% of the contract or a bad contract. If a situation arises where the Penguins can get Semin at half price or lower, he’s going to get serious consideration.
A puck possession monster, the front office duo of Jim Rutherford/Jason Karmanos believe Semin is tailored made for Mike Johnston’s system. He probably is as it’s a system that generates offense from the outside.
The buzz on Rutherford around the league right now is he’s bound to do something risky this summer. “That’s his nature,” one NHL source said of Rutherford.
3. Mike Babcock has declined a four year deal from the Detroit Red Wings worth $3.75 million and the Red Wings have officially given Mike Babcock permission to speak to others teams. Teams that speak with Babcock must sign a waiver that they will relinquish a third round pick were they to sign Babcock. Edmonton goes into this interview process as the front runner to land Babcock. Still no indications the Penguins will make a surprise play.
4. The NHL is evolving back into the clutch and grab era of the 90’s and early 2000’s, but smallish players with great offensive skills still have a place in the league and continue to get overlooked by teams, scouts. UDFA’s, Tyler Johnson of Tampa Bay, and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau are prime examples of that. Both have been huge game changers in the playoffs and also were in the regular season. In the Penguins organization, Conor Sheary is going to be an interesting situation to watch moving forward if the organization overlooks his size and give him an actual look. For the second straight post-season, he’s been Wilkes Barre’s best player.
5. The NFL sent out enough leaks Friday that it’s a near certainty that Tom Brady will be suspended as early as next week. Most speculation is anywhere from 2-8 games. A stunner if the NFL actually has it in them to go through and shelve one of the NFL’s most marketable stars in Brady. It appears they actually will.