LATEST PENGUINS BUZZ
Since the trade deadline, expectations from ownership to management has been reach the Stanley Cup Finals or bust for the Pittsburgh Penguins. That still holds true going into the Penguins Eastern Conference Finals series with the Boston Bruins, which is expected to not start until Friday at the earliest.
That said, a series loss against the Bruins in the conference finals is not likely to lead to major changes for the organization and win or lose in the Conference finals, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma is in a so called “safe zone” when it comes to his job security.
As much as ownership and management love Bylsma, he had a ton of pressure on himself to get out of the first round earlier this month and that pressure is now off for Bylsma with the Penguins entering the third round of the playoffs.
“Even from the coaching staff to the players, the pressure in that first round was pretty enormous,” GM Ray Shero told the Tribune-Review. “To win that series, against a team that was basically carefree, the pressure was great. To win the way we won it, really battle back on many occasions — look, obviously I think Dan is a great coach, and we have a really strong coaching staff. These players were prepared,” Shero said.
Bylsma has one year left on his contract and winning two rounds is enough in itself for the organization to go forward with their plans to extend Bylsma’s contract this coming summer prior to training camp and make him one of the games highest paid coaches, multiple sources say.
COOKE ENHANCING FREE AGENCY STOCK
NHL sources say some GM’s in need of grit on their third line figure to not consider signing Penguins LW Matt Cooke because of Cooke’s past and concerns of bringing him into the room as he is so disliked by players around the league.
There is really a hatred towards Cooke from some NHL players, which will worry a GM or two out there about bringing Cooke on board.
Cooke, though, is a players scouts are buzzing about right now and the feeling around the league is that Cooke will have multiple suitors in free agency were he to hit the open market.
With a strong playoff run, Cooke is enhancing his free agency stock and for the first time in two years he’s playing on the edge again but within the rules as he’s been a constant physical presence.
Cooke is making $1.2 million this season, carrying a $1.8 million cap hit. Toronto, Montreal and Carolina will be among the teams in the East to keep an eye on were Cooke to hit the open market.
The Penguins top two priorities in free agency are expected to be Pascal Dupuis and Jarome Iginla.