*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*

1. Penguins management is building their roster with a 3-4 year window in mind where they don’t want to be locked into many bad contracts four to five years down the road when the time comes that some of their core might start to begin regressing.

How much do the Penguins value Patric Hornqvist with the Penguins window still wide open to win a couple more Cups?

We’re about to find out.


Hornqvist, 30, enters the final year of his contract that carries a $4.25 million cap hit and he’s scheduled to make $4.75 million in 2017/2018.

Pittsburgh believes Hornqvist’s trade value is so high around the league, they protected him as one of their four forwards in the expansion draft to ensure no team tried workout a side deal with Vegas to select Hornqvist and trade for him.

But, do the Penguins value Hornqvist enough to lock him up to a 3-4 year extension when they might be paying more for what he did in the past than he will in the future?

Hornqvist coming off a 21 goal season, has produced seven straight 20-goals seasons (excluding the shortened lockout season).

The intangibles, the net-front presence, the character, Jim Rutherford is a strong believer that Hornqvist is one of the biggest reasons this group transformed into a Stanley Cup team in 2016.

There’s the fact, though, at times this past season when Conor Sheary was starring on the first line with Guentzel and Crosby, and Bryan Rust was still playing right wing, Hornqvist was the Penguins 4th best right winger.

That and there’s concerns his style of play might lead to his body breaking down in his early 30’s. Not to mention, young upside wingers Zach Aston-Reese and Daniel Sprong banging on the door for an NHL role.

While the Penguins are weighing the pros and cons, there are strong indications the team will explore signing Hornqvist to an extension prior to the regular season starting.

2. Was Matt Hunwick at age 32 getting a three year deal from the Penguins insurance for the Penguins potentially losing Ian Cole next summer?

A Penguins source says [hide] “No” and that the team just really likes Hunwick and they had to go three years to close the deal as Hunwick’s hometown Red Wings had a 2 year offer on the table to Hunwick believed to be for around $2.75 million per season.


3. Ron Cook of the Post-Gazette created a stir today with a column titled “Don’t Be Surprised if the Penguins Trade Phil Kessel.”

Among the blurbs from the column:

[“I believe Phil Kessel will be traded. It might not happen this week or this month or even this offseason. But I believe it will happen sooner rather than later.
Tocchet’s departure could hasten the process.
It was clear in June, by the end of the Penguins’ second consecutive Stanley Cup run, that the organization wasn’t thrilled with Kessel. He scored 23 goals in 82 games during the regular season, not nearly enough for a player with his marvelous shooting skills. He had a huge goal — one of the most significant of the postseason — to beat Ottawa, 1-0, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final but scored just two more goals in the final 11 playoff games. Even though he had 23 points in the 25 postseason games, it was hard to find anyone in organization to say he was playing well.
My belief is Evgeni Malkin wasn’t thrilled to play on the same line with Kessel. And Sidney Crosby? Sullivan acknowledged Crosby and Kessel have no chemistry together. None.”]

I’m sure Cook is getting crushed from many angles because Kessel seems to be a touchy subject with some, but I will say this —  there are many in the organization who feel Kessel’s a diminishing asset entering his 30’s and it’s going to be even more difficult to deal with his act [hide] when a 23-25 goal season starts slipping to around 18 which the Penguins internally project will happen.–

I won’t be the least surprised that the Penguins start actively exploring trade scenarios in the next 1-2 years, but, as I mentioned the other day, Kessel’s reps at Newport Sports will always make his eight-team trade listteams right up against the cap who are extremely unlikely to trade for him. In 2015 it just worked out the Penguins were the one and only team on his list willing to take the gamble.

— 4. Another off-season, more questions where Derrick Pouliot fits with the NHL club for the upcoming season.

The Penguins didn’t give Matt Hunwick a three year deal at $2.25 million per to be the 7th defenseman.

The coaches love Chad Ruhwedel as a depth option and feel he’s the perfect No. 7.

The Penguins have continued to talk Pouliot up all summer and it’s hard to take anything serious because the coaching staff has zero patience for him to just let him go out there and play a bunch of games before having look over his shoulder. And the fact right now, there’s just no spot in the top-6.

Pouliot’s one year, $800,000 contract is smaller than his qualifying offer ($874,500) but the number being a little bit lower than the QO was expected in the process where in turn the Penguins give Pouliot a one-way contract.

Pouliot and Chad Ruhwedel will both be waiver eligible and barring a trade of a defenseman between now and October, the Penguins are likely to start the season with eight defensemen with the team likely to be cautious with Kris Letang, who I’m told is progressing very well and is ahead of schedule.

The Penguins will have plenty of cap space to carry 23 skaters to start the season, unlike previous seasons where they had to send players to Wheeling for a day to be cap compliant.

5. The Yankees released Chris Carter on Tuesday. Carter, 30, was the NL leader in home runs in 2016 with 41 as a Milwaukee Brewer. With the Yankees in 2017 prior to his release, he hit .201 with 8 home runs, 26 RBIs and a .284 on-base percentage.

While the Pirates have a much better/younger version of Carter in Josh Bell, when you have guys like Phil Gosselin and Max Moroff on your bench, you should be considering everything when it comes to adding a Major League talent.

Would you rather have John Jaso or Chris Carter as the primary backup behind Bell?[/hide]