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Free Agency thoughts: Penguins could be fun to watch again

A lot has happened over the offseason thus far. No clue how those things will wind up. That said, there is already a much different feel to the Penguins’ on-ice product. It seems fun again.

Some may counter with this:

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We’d counter with this, this, and this:

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The Dan Bylsma and Ray Shero North American initiative failed. It burned up. Watching those now who blindly supported it over the years is so great. Long gone are the days of watching Joe Vitale, Craig Adams, and Tanner Glass get the puck and then skate themselves into the boards.

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The people that supported that style should be gathered up and thrown off the Smithfield Street Bridge. Don’t take this as an overwhelming endorsement of Jim Rutherford, because it isn’t. However, GMJR is in charge now, and he doesn’t seem to be afraid of European players, so we are pumped.

Some thoughts:

Could we see a surprise on the first day of free agency?

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The Penguins have been quiet since Saturday. But we’re sure GMJR’s phone hasn’t been. Could the Penguins do something surprising?

- Could Paul Martin be on the block?

This would be a surprise, but not unthinkable. Martin is on the last year of his contract. Between Martin and Letang that is about $12.5 million on the books. A salary dump would be an option here and give the Penguins some more room. All that said, Martin was fantastic last year, and it would be a tough trade to make.

- Is trading Letang dead?

Imagine Kris Letang today. He went from rich to ridiculously rich in 24 hours. Letang’s new deal kicks in today; he will now be making $7.25 million a season. The Penguins have said Letang is untouchable and will not be traded. Mike Johnston is said to covet Letang’s upside. The question is, will he be able to handle his downsides? Seems like the Penguins will ride and die with Letang.

- Are they really going to keep Rob Scuderi?

The Rob Scuderi signing will probably be one of the top three worst moves by Ray Shero. Scuderi is still making $3.75 million this season. Doesn’t really seem to fit with Johnston’s up-tempo style.

- Would the Penguins take a chance on Christian Ehrhoff?

Don’t see this happening. Especially if the Penguins keep Martin, Letang and Slowderi.

Hornqvist – Malkin – Kulemin

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning

Yes, please. @rick_city had a great post on this over the weekend. Instantly would be our favorite all-Euro line since the KLS line back in 90’s.

Other free agent wingers

NHL:Carolina Hurricanes at Ottawa Senators

Josh Yohe of the Trib said the Penguins are interested in Benoit Pouliot. If the Penguins land someone + Pouliot, free agency will be a win. Here are our top 4 forwards other than Kulemin or Pouliot to watch.

Basically, this is the same list as the other day.

1. Ales Hemsky

Injuries may be a concern, but the skill Hemsky brings to the table is second to none. He has never really been on a good team. Paired with Crosby, he would be terrifying.

2. Mike Cammalleri

We’ll beat this drum all the way home. Automatic 25-goal scorer.

3. Steve Ott

Still think a guy like Steve Ott makes all the sense in the world. It would have to be at the right price though.

4. Steve Downie

Before you gasp, remember: Rick Tocchet turned Downie into a 20-goalie scorer. And since Tocchet basically owns the Penguins now, do not discount something like this happening.

Worst suggestion of free agency so far

Hard to imagine someone less in the loop than Joe Starkey.

Underrated storyline

The Penguins’ backup-goalie hunt will be something to watch. Jonas Hiller is out there, but he is too costly. Would the Penguins dare take a flyer on Marty Brodeur?

The goalie market isn’t the greatest:

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Five Predictions

1. It sure sounds like the Penguins want Kulemin, so we’ll say they get him.

2. Totally off the wall, but the least shocking thing of all time would be Rick Tocchet talking someone into Steve Downie.

3.  A trade goes down at some point. Either a salary dump of Slowderi or a player trade with Martin?

4. Niskanen to Washington. Orpik to a Western Conference team.

5. Joe Vitale: retires.

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