NHL Salaries

Penguins Kasperi Kapanen contract, Evgeni Malkin on wing, Big 3 statue: Mailbag

Why hi.

It has been more than a while since you, dear readers, and I have had the opportunity to send it by mail. Not quite long enough, however, for “mailbag” to be used as a verb in the future.

Anyway, with so many questions to choose from (thanks everyone), I want to get into the answers. But first…

No, I failed to figure out the Penguins contract with Kasperi Kapanen. I tried. And based on the many questions I’ve received about Kapanen’s contract, it’s clear that many of you are dealing with it as well.

A two-year, $3.2 million-a-year commitment to a winger who doesn’t seem to fit the roster was, and remains, a jaw-dropping move by general manager Ron Hextall. However, Hextall has mostly had a good offseason, so maybe it’s best to trust him on the Kapanen front.

So to avoid every question being about Kapanen, allow me this signature theory:

The Penguins believe their optimal third line includes Jason Zucker and Jeff Carter, in part because Zucker showed well with Carter and didn’t seem to click as expected with Evgeni Malkin. Also, if Zucker and Malkin were injured while on the same line, as is possible given their injury history, the Penguins would have to adjust their second line more than if Zucker and Malkin weren’t playing together forcefully. equal.

Enter Kapanen, who, at least in his first season, showed some chemistry with Malkin.

If Kapanen is the third option as a right winger on a Malkin-centered second line, the recently extended Rickard Rakell could play left wing on that line. Of course, this goes against what I had planned in Athleticism first roster screenings, but NHL life changes like the title of a certain Vin Diesel automotive movie franchise. Alas, so will the listing projections. The new projection for the front lines:

New forward depth chart

left wing


Right wing

First line

Jake Guentzel

Sidney Crosby

Bryan Rust

Second line

Rickard Rakell

Yevgeny Malkin

Kasperi Kapanen

Third line

jason zucker

Jeff Carter

Danton Heinen

Fourth line

Brock McGinn

Teddy Bleuger

Ryan Pohling


Radim Zohorna

Drew O’Connor

Josh Archibald

New niche

Now let’s get to some questions!

How upset will Danton Heinen be every time he watches and sees Kapanen and thinks about their salaries? —Ryan J.

Heinen will have a million very good reasons to focus on more productive thoughts than jealousy.

Do you agree that Hextall straddles the line between winning now and building for the future? After resigning from Malkin and Letang, it seems like it should be “everything” about the next 3 years and not draft picks. The second line is poor. The RD on paper looks better, however, the LD lacks a true save defender. Looks like the Pens’ chance of making the playoffs has plummeted, let alone the fight. —Dean Y

To be fair, Hextall was hired by the previous owner to straddle that fence. It’s one of the reasons Hextall was told the job was essentially an unsuccessful venture by Brian Burke, who advised the Penguins on their general manager search before hiring him as president of operations. hockey.

On paper, the Penguins are among the top three clubs in the Metropolitan Division. In my eyes, they were at least a second-round club each of the last two seasons if their goalie had simply been adequate at the NHL level. Hextall appears to have rated this group similarly. So the idea of ​​keeping the group together to make the playoffs and hope for the best probably isn’t the worst decision.

By the way, the new owner, from what I’m told, didn’t want to blow it all up as a first big step into a new market. Hextall was not hired by this ownership group, so he may have felt pressure to comply with those wishes to continue moving forward with the group as it was/is. He also has a job to keep.

Seen through these realities, this offseason makes a lot of sense, even if reasonable people might disagree with Hextall’s approach.

How does the current management assess PO Joseph? Is it still exempt from derogation? —Jonathan D.

My read on POJ is that management feels they lack an edge that would amplify their considerable talent. To be frank, I would expect him to be among the names we hear floating around in any potential left-back trades.

If you look at the players added to the right side on defense this offseason, they’ve each brought sandpaper to their game. POJ, for all he brings, doesn’t bring sandpaper.

I have to go to Home Depot.

Are Hextall and Burke’s hands tied when it comes to signing bigger wingers Who can play a tough physical game and drop the gloves because Sullivan probably wouldn’t play them? -Wayne I

In fact, these hands are tied more with the lack of these types of wingers available. There are fewer now than at any time I can remember, hence the loot the Panthers turned over to the Flames for Matthew Tkachuk. The game has changed and the prototypical power forward isn’t so typical anymore – and expensive to acquire.

The Penguins don’t have the credentials to go into this game unless they spot a promising forward. It’s just that these players rarely develop the way they are thrown.

Did it bother you throughout the Malkin negotiations that people were implying that Geno’s team was using you as a spokesperson? I mean, obviously we understand the connection, but I found the frequent innuendos offensive. I love your reports! —Dalton M.

Thanks Dalton.

Nothing said, tweeted or implied about my relationship with Malkin bothers me. It’s mainly because I don’t expect people on the outside – whether or not they’re in the media, whether they work for a hockey team or read my stories – to know more about the relationship than me or Evgeni.

We are not friends.

We have a very strong professional relationship. He trusts me, and I feel like that trust has spawned many, many stories that have painted a more complete picture of Evgeni than anything out there.

I have learned through many therapies not to take anything personally when it comes to my work. It is not easy. But with my diagnosed mental and neurological disorders, I can’t afford to worry about controlling what’s out of my control. And what people think is out of my control.

Do you see Malkin going to the wing as he gets older? —Douglas EB

Inevitably, and against his true desire, Malkin will probably play more on the wing on this four-year contract. Especially if, as I suspect, it’s in the cards, the Penguins are in play for JT Miller next offseason. Miller can play center or on the wing.

Malkin being listed as a winger, or considered a winger, is probably not in the cards. He plays and thinks like a center. But it certainly seems like his most effective use over time would be something similar to his rookie season or during the 2009 playoffs when his center duties were more on offense and he was basically doing the duty of a defensive winger.

How does the war in Ukraine affect Russian players and team decisions? — Cleo H.

Enormously. And I insist on “awful”.

Many Russian players who were impending free agents could not return to Russia due to potential government travel issues. Those who stayed in the United States and/or Canada for fear of not being able to return from Russia in time for training camp have not had the chance to see family and friends for over a year. . Almost every Russian I know worries that someone they love is in danger because of the war with Ukraine.

This is uncharted territory for Russian players and the NHL clubs they play for. I fear that the situation will only get more complicated.

What can we expect from Crosby’s next contract (bonus: do you think he’ll find a way to fit #87 into his next contract like he did with this one)? —Chris C.

Well, Chris, let’s make sure everyone understands that Sidney Crosby has three seasons left on his current contract. And he just pulled off a major power play to keep his close friends (Malkin and Kris Letang) in Pittsburgh, for life.

He told Josh Yohe of his desire to play six more seasons. The Penguins cap for Crosby was $8.7 million for all but his first three NHL seasons. I don’t see that changing on his next contract, although his compensation structure will likely take precedence, as it has on his current deal.

However, it’s safe to say that any fears that Crosby wouldn’t end his career in Pittsburgh dissipated when the Penguins opted to keep Malkin and Letang.

My idea for the next Penguins statue is one featuring Crosby, Malkin and Letang, only with Sid in front. What about? —Tom M.

Tommy, buddy, you’re a genius. This is exactly what should be built near the Mario Lemieux statue outside of PPG Paints Arena. Here’s hoping Penguins president of business operations Kevin Acklin reads this mail.

Can the Penguins afford to trade one of their left-handed D-men? Not from a monetary point of view, but from a skills point of view. —Joe C.

Not from where I’m sitting, Joe.

The Penguins really can’t afford to lose Brian Dumoulin and Marcus Pettersson. They need every left fielder to play as close to the maximum level as possible if they want to challenge for the Stanley Cup. If the Penguins get that kind of performance, the fullback instantly becomes that team’s main strength.

It’s just too big an “if” to make a call right now.

Hey Rob! In order to be in line with the ceiling, I suggest the following trading archetype: all our dear bad players, wait for it…. all their good players, preferably with better offers; bonus points for local products. Do you know of seven or maybe even 20 examples of imminent and likely business proposals that meet this criteria? —Tim J.

Do. In fact, Josh Archibald back in Edmonton for Connor McDavid is surely in the works (I write while checking to see if it really was creamier in my morning coffee).

Do you think if the Penguins don’t get out of the first round, Sullivan gets fired? —Marissa O.

I think Mike Sullivan is one of the best coaches in the NHL and has done a masterful job with subtle tweaks, which he doesn’t get enough credit for. I also think that nobody believes in this group of players, at least the core, more than Sullivan.

Still, five straight first-round losses would be hard for the Penguins to accept, especially if it can’t be attributed to an inadequate goalie.

Are you alive? —Richard B.

Does anybody?

(Photo by Kasperi Kapanen: Gaelen Morse/USA Today)