TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Associate GM Jason Botterill is regarded as one of the best cap experts in the NHL but if there’s anything the Penguins can learn from this season is the need to manage the cap better for when it comes to operating the NHL roster on a day to day basis. They put themselves so tight against the cap to start the season that it led to a situation now after all the roster moves and shuffling where the organization was scrambling Wednesday to find any loophole to see if they could make a forward callup for tonight and remain cap compliant. Well they can’t and the Penguins will play with just 17 skaters tonight. The Penguins, according to a source, had under $100,000 in cap space as of Wednesday morning.
In Tuesday night’s post-game press conference, Penguins head coach Mike Johnston cited “4 to 5 players” as lacking the proper “compete level” vs Blues and you can bet the coaching staff would love to get some new blood in here from Wilkes Barre to push or replace a player like Beau Bennett but the Penguins can’t even do that.
“I’m going to talk to management that today to see what we can do,” Johnston said Wednesday of recalling players from Wilkes Barre. What Johnston found out is there’s nothing the Penguins can do.
Johnston put a good spin on the situation in Raleigh today. “It gives a look that they may not be ready for as far as who’s playing with who and different shifts,” Johnston said of mixing in 11 forwards.”
In the James Neal trade, the better value was always take Patric Hornqvist and one of the Predators second round picks (they had three), instead they took on a role player in Nick Spaling who carries a $2.25 million cap hit and the Penguins could have got same type of production with a young player on the cheap or a veteran like Lee Stempniak for $900,000. Over-valuing costly role players like Spaling is why the Penguins are in this situation right now.
2. Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos is said to have been furious over the public comments Penguins GM Jim Rutherford made last month pertaining to Jordan Staal and some in the Hurricanes organization were so heated they even looked into the validity if tampering charges were warranted but never officially pursued action with the league, sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports. One league source says if Staal was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, the Hurricanes would have had significant grounds to pursue tampering charges.
NHL bylaw No. 15 states that tampering is, “the making or causing to be made through any medium, public or private, any statement indicating any intention or desire of or interest in acquiring the services [of a player on another club]”
After Rutherford is believed by some to have leaked the team was interested in acquiring Staal to the Tribune-Review that cited league and team sources, (story was published on Feb 21), hours later that night the Post-Gazette had a headline “GM wouldn’t mind a Staal trade again” and had actual on the record quotes from Rutherford. “Staal is a big piece that the Penguins have missed, since that trade,” Rutherford told the paper. “As good a player as Brandon Sutter is and the two young defensemen coming, Jordan is badly missed here.”
Rutherford a few days later did a radio interview with 937 The Fan and was more cautious with his comments when asked about Staal.
3. The Penguins are an NHL worst (30th) 0-15-5 when trailing after the second period. They are the only NHL team to not have one come from behind win when trailing after two periods. Previous seasons when trailing after two periods: 8th (5 wins) in the NHL in 2013-2014, 8th (4 wins) in 2012-2013, 2nd (8 wins) in 2011-2012.
The Last NHL team to record zero come from behind wins in a season when trailing after two periods is none other than the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2010-2011 when they went 0-19-1.
4. Forbes baseball valuations always become a scrutinized issue but you can’t disagree with this statement about the Pirates not increasing payroll in the matter they should.
Via Forbes — [“In 2014, the Pirates qualified for the post-season for the second consecutive year after a streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons. They were bounced in the wild card elimination game by the Giants, but financially the season was a success. Ratings on regional sports network Root Sports Pittsburgh averaged 7.49, third-highest in baseball. Attendance at PNC Park averaging 30,155, almost 7% more than 2013. But, since Bob Nutting became teams principle owner seven years ago, payroll has barely increased relative to baseballs other 29 teams. In 2007, the Pirates payroll was 27th ($39 million) and last season it was 26th ($72 million).”]
Spending $80 million now compared to $45 million in 2009 is about the same thing with how healthy baseball is and the money the Pirates are bringing in. Bob Nutting has just lucked out that he finally has a great front office in place led by Neal Huntington. Don’t want to believe it, name one significant hole on this roster right now?
5. Kevin Colbert said this week the Steelers looked into a named cornerback at the start of free agency and he wasn’t talking about Patrick Robinson and Sterling Moore. Without mentioning his name, Colbert was talking about Darrelle Revis. Team officials privately deny any suggestion that all the Steelers did was show preliminary interest in Revis, at least in their mind they looked into Revis in a serious matter. Revis in an interview with XM radio confirmed the Steelers were one of the teams he talked with and showed interest. “It was the Packers, Steelers, Baltimore as well as Cleveland, the Chiefs, the Jets, and also the Pats, so there was a number of teams there,” Revis told SiriusXM Radio’s Schein on Sports. “I sat down and had conversations with them [mentioned teams] to see if we could work something out.” —