*RUMBLINGS, MUSINGS, OPINIONS*
1. From the fan base, the consensus on the Simon Despres – Ben Lovejoy trade seems to be some like it and some absolutely despise it. Looks like there’s no in between and surprisingly that’s the reaction I’ve gotten from some NHL types. Many understand the Penguins thinking here in wanting to add a more reliable defenseman but the vibe continues to be that the Penguins sold low on Despres and took the best deal they could because of their cap situation when it comes to landing a right handed defenseman. At the end of the day yesterday’s trades were able getting safer, more dependable defensemen, even if it meant selling low on Despres. The Anaheim game Friday night should be a fun one to watch.
2. Robert Bortuzzo was nothing more than a No. 6/No. 7 defenseman who could impact a game at times with a big hit but where he’s going to be missed most is inside the Penguins room. Extremely well liked by his teammates and one of the few players who kept the room loose. I think Cole has a chance to be a slightly better player than Bortuzzo here but this constant talk from the Penguins organization that Cole has more “experience” than Bortuzzo is a bit overblown. Cole has just two career playoff games and like Bortuzzo has yet to establish himself as an NHL regular.
3. The Penguins will have just one draft pick among the top 120 picks in this June’s entry draft but one thing they’ve done very well is retain their next wave of NHL ready prospects. That includes potential contributors for next season like Scott Wilson, Scott Harrington, Brian Dumoulin, Bryan Rust and Oskar Sundqvist, along with retaining their top-2 prospects in the system, Kasperi Kapanen and Derrick Pouliot, the latter already establishing himself as evolving into an NHL regular. Doesn’t take away the fact that the Penguins didn’t get enough for Simon Despres but the team has a few prospects ready to make the jump while still on entry level deals which is important with the cap likely settling at $69-$70 million. The Penguins boast only one potential top-6 forward in their system in Kapanen but scouts feel Wilson, Sundqvist have a chance to develop into quality bottom-6 players and contribute at the NHL level soon.
4. With the way prices went at the deadline, the Oilers return for David Perron (a non-rental top-6 winger) in early January continues to show their incompetence.
5. The Steelers did a lot of homework Sunday/Monday at Wake Forest on first round prospect, cornerback Kevin Johnson. The Steelers sent four representatives – including GM Kevin Colbert – to Wake Forest on Monday.
The Charlotte Observer reports the Steelers representatives spent nearly 15 minutes talking with Johnson’s parents on the sideline, and they also spoke at length with Wake Forest coaches. A source tells Inside Pittsburgh Sports the Steelers also met with Johnson Sunday evening in a private setting. The Steelers have not drafted a cornerback in the first round since 1997 and have not drafted a cornerback in the second round since 2004. Colbert’s philosophy is to nab a corner in the middle rounds. It’s just one of those positions where the particular player has to be seen as much greater value for the Steelers to go in that direction early. This will likely be the year, though, they take a corner before the third round.
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