GM Patrick is Not Making Any Hat Tricks By Not Pulling the Money Out of his Hat

Since that whole Jagr deal, the Penguins have lowered their yearly payroll down by more than 10 million dollars. In addition to that, the Penguins received around 4.5 million dollars from the Washington Capitals, as part of the Jagr deal. What is Craig Patrick doing now?After Jaromir Jagr out of Pittsburgh and the money received by the Capitals, I was picturing the Penguins re-signing Alexei Kovalev and Martin Straka in a matter of days. Well, it seems that i pictured it wrong. Every hockey fan who has knowledge of the situation the Penguins are in, would know that Kovalev and Straka are “must keeps” for the team.

Strangely, the news of Kovalev and Straka were not announced on hockey’s major sites, being one. Kovalev and Straka filed for arbitration, along with Ian Moran, Robert Lang, and Jan Hrdina. This was a surprise to me. Here is a team that freed up 10 million dollars of payroll (20.7 in two years), received money from a team, and they were not able to sign any of those players? Sure, Darius Kaspiritis also filed for arbitration, but it is a highly correct predicition that he will be traded.

When a player files for arbitration, that means that the player wants a higher salary and disagrees with the team’s offer. As ridiculous as it seems, Kovalev will probably be the second most important player on the roster. Kovalev has finally reached career high points, and deserves a higher pay. You have to be joking Craig Patrick. What did he offer to all those players to make them go to arbitration? That is a joke. I would understand if at least Kovalev or Straka was re-signed, it would be one major player, but to have them all file for arbitration? Unacceptable.

Now correct me if i am wrong, it is true that when there is a restricted free agent another team could offer a higher salary, and have the other team match that salary, right? If it is true, then i want to ask another question. Could a team make an offer sheet to a player of another team who filed for arbitration? Basically, Kovalev filed for arbitration, could another team acquire him by offering him a higher contract? I am not sure about that rule, but i am guessing it’s a “no” answer.

I realized here that Patrick was taking a high risk of losing Kovalev, Straka, Lang, Hrdina, and Moran by not giving them the right contract. I am not understanding where the money of the Penguins is going here. Either way, not the player or the team wins arbitration because it usually concludes to a fair salary. But in a way, the team loses because they get to pay more.

If I would be a Penguins fan, I’d be very disappointed in Patrick. With the money the Penguins have now available, they could not even agree to come to terms with one player? Besides the important players on the team, the Penguins have yet to sign 20 restricted free agents. This information was given by the Pittsburgh Tribune where they introduce the Penguins Free Agents Charts. It will be very interesting how much Straka, Kovalev, lang, Hrdina, and Moran will be paid this coming season.

Penguins future does not look good. What was the teams major problem last season? Defense and goaltending. Now that they have lost Jagr and Boughner, the team does not look good. Sure they still would have offensive powers like Lemieux, Straka, and Kovalev, but where is the defense? Does the team depend on Hedberg for goaltending? Who will be their back-up goalie if Hedberg has a sophomore jinx? Let’s look at the defense. Kaspiritis will surely be gone, and Boughner gone. What will the shaky defense look like next season? Has Patrick shown any signs of improving the team? Doesn’t look like he has, at least in my opinion. The only good news for the defense is that Hans Jonsson signed a little contract worth 1.5 million dollars for 2 years.

Compare the 2001-2002 Pittsburgh Penguins to the 2000-2001 Pittsburgh Penguins. I really don’t see how the Penguins could make the playoffs by depending on Hedberg (unless they trade for a goalie), Lemieux, Straka, Kovalev, Hrdina (if not traded), and Lang (if not traded). Where is the defense? Rangers proved that without defense, there is no playoffs. You can have as much offense as you want, but with no defense there is no playoffs. Instead of improving the defense, Patrick has improved only one thing, the budget. Unless the Penguins get some real good tough defensemen, which they lacked last season, the Penguins have a low chance of making the playoffs.

The Pittsburgh Penguins is the team I am mostly looking at this moment. This team is more interesting to see than the Lindros story. How will this team look like next season? Think about it, no Jagr no defense, where will this team be? In my opinion, I ranked the Penguins from 11th to 8th in the Easter Conference for the 2001-2002 season.

I’m being reasonable here with my opinion. I am not at all criticizing the Penguins team, just the managment and opinionizing the future. What do you guys think?

Micki Peroni

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