Insider Only Even Strength production for Crosby on steady decline , Ridley on Steelers radar & more in today’s Daily Five

*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*

nhl_g_scrosby1_sy_5761. If you listen to some pundits, you’ll hear them cite Sidney Crosby’s lack of power play points (8G-18A) and lack of power play opportunities as the primary reason he’s having the worst statistical season of his career. However, the stats show it’s plummeting even strength numbers not his power play production that has him averaging just 1.08 points per game.
Last season Crosby had 38 power play points in 80 games, averaging 0.46 power play points per game. This season he’s at 0.44 power play points per game, near identical numbers.
At even strength is where there’s a big dip. Crosby this season has 38 even strength points, averaging 0.64 even strength points per game. Last season he posted 66 even strength points in 80 games, averaging 0.83 ESP/Per.
Crosby’s 5 v 5 points/60 have dropped from 4.19 (12-13), 2.54 (13-14), to 2.18 (14-15) this season.
He’s not playing with Brian Gibbons this season, so it’s hard to complain about the wingers, though, Crosby’s three primary linemates this season, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz and David Perron are all below 1.80 points/60 5 v 5.
Remember this during the summer:
If the Penguins don’t make a long run and Crosby continues to produce around this current level, look for whispers to come out from the Crosby camp that the Penguins coaching staff played a part in Crosby’s numbers dropping because he was given more defensive responsibilities.

2. Jim Rutherford did an interview with Sportsnet 590 a few weeks ago and this quote stood out. “The window of opportunity for guys like Malkin and Crosby is still pretty big,” Rutherford said. “Window of opportunity for other players on the Penguins might not be.”
That quote kind of stuck with me and it’s obvious who those players are, at the top of the list being Chris Kunitz. The Penguins discussed Kunitz with some teams in early February but pulled back on the idea of trading him as the trade deadline inched closer. Turning 36 in September and while he doesn’t have a terrible cap hit, $3.85 millon, anyone expecting the Penguins to come out on top in any Kunitz deal might be wishful thinking. The best route for the Penguins could be moving Kunitz to the third line next season and gradually start to limit his role. Ideally that’s where the Penguins would like to play him and expecting him to be a consistent impact top-6 winger isn’t reasonable anymore. That doesn’t mean he still can’t give them one or two more solid seasons as a third line winger with power play time.
Kunitz has become a lightning rod for criticism of late. He’s clearly taken a step back and it’s the dip in even strength production for a player in his mid-30’s that should have been expected but also highlights the concerns the Penguins have in the top-6 come playoff time.
Kunitz had 22 even strength goals in 78 games last season, this season he’s down to just 7 even strength goals in 55 games.
The 5 v 5 points/60 have also taken a significant dip the last three seasons, 3.19 (12-13), 2.18 (13-14), 1.65 (14-15).

3. Elliotte Friedman in his weekly 30 thoughts feature writes that Ducks GM Bob Murray is pretty excited about getting Simon Despres after wanting to draft Despres with the 37th overall pick in the 2009 draft.

“Bob Murray did share some excitement over the acquisition of Simon Despres. He said he was going to draft Despres in 2009 with an early second-round draft pick (37th overall), but the Penguins, who won the Stanley Cup that season, grabbed him with the final selection of the first round,” Friedman writes.

Lamarr-woodley-pic-388x2584. LaMarr Woodley was officially released by the Raiders this week and you have to wonder if this is it for him. He’ll probably catch on somewhere but is no lock to make it out of anyone’s camp. Steelers coaches, former teammates privately contend Woodley’s lack of work ethic has led to his demise as a player. After the lockout, he just stopped working and got fat some contend. Woodley collected around $27 million in cash from the Steelers (2011-2013) and than made $4.85 million from the Raiders last season. Not bad money for a player who got paid for what he was. Dick LeBeau has said Woodley and James Harrison were one of the best outside linebacker tandems in NFL history during that three year stretch in 2008-2010. Harrison’s ability to play into his late 30’s shows the difference between the two; Work Ethic.

5. The Steelers believe Le’Veon Bell will be suspended three games and they are on the hunt for a dependable No. 2 running back in free agency. One problem they may run into is that their handling of LeGarrette Blount in how he barely played behind Bell, concerns at least one agent of a free agent running back that would be an ideal fit for the Steelers behind Bell.
A popular name right now is Pierre Thomas, especially because of his ability to catch out of the backfield.
However, one name high on the Steelers wishlist is Patriot running back Steven Ridley who’s coming off ACL surgery. He’s a potential high reward signing who will be cheap and is looking for a prove it deal. They want to bring him in for a look.
— The TIOPS Daily Five returns Monday —

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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