The Future of the Flight-less Birds

I’ve been delaying writing this submission for some time now, but after watching the Penguin’s game last night against the Flyers, I realized it was time.

There’s really not much to say regarding the current state of the team. Mario coughed up the puck to Keith Primeau last night and continued to glide around the net making a beautiful figure 8, and just watching Sami Kapanen pop one top corner. Then he skated off to center for the draw. I know that the season is a lost cause, I know that maybe now, it would be better to lose from here on out in hopes of securing the top pick, but COME ON! Rick Kehoe has shown absolutely NO fire at all. I see nothing in him. Nothing, but “oh well, nothing I can do.” You there is something you can do. STEP DOWN. Just flat out quit Keith. Say you realized you didn’t wanna be in this whole coaching thing if you were going to actually have to try to motivate, and Mario, since you are showing no signs of caring on the ice, at least get on things and fire the other half of the Patrick connection in Wilkes-Barre, and get someone in there who will ready all these young guys.

I feel like this is the point where things become so critical for the franchise, and no one seems to give one ounce of effort. No one but all these young players that is. The amount of young players competing for jobs next season will be insane. Some of the players that will be in WB next season will probably have played games for the Pens before. I really think they have too many players right now. I think a lot of guys will have their potential thwarted by having to spend all season in the minors. Now I know everyone is going to say “too many players?!” I’m not saying they are all necessarily great players, or even good players, but guys that need their shot to be in the NHL. Guys we won’t have room for necessarily. Here:

Centers: Lemieux, Manderville, Holzinger, Johansson, Kraft, Petersen, Endicott, Sivek

Wingers: Abid, Lefebvre, Mckenna, Morozov, Nieminen, Straka, Surovy, Bradley, Daigle, Fata, Meloche, Samuelsson, Beech, Murley, Kostopoulos, Koltsov, Armstrong

D: Bouchard, Jonsson, Heins, Lintner, Focht, Melichar, Pushor, Rozsival, Tarnstrom, Orpik, Whitney, Lupaschuk

That’s a total of 37 guys. With maybe 8 gauranteed a spot next season if that. Included are the last 3 years worth of first rounders (Orpik, Armstrong, Whitney). For Orpik, I think his time has to be now. Whitney was 5th overall last season, so shouldn’t be far from being in the NHL. Armstrong has struggled this year, but could be the next Dino Ciccarelli. So what do you do with the 19 guys that aren’t on the team in the beginning of the year? Have an overloaded WB team, then have to send guys to the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL, and basically lose them forever (I hope we didn’t do that Michel Ouellet this season).

Guys like Kraft and Beech need to be in the NHL NOW. A couple years in the minors at this point I don’t see doing a whole lot. And right now, Kraft is sitting in the minors. I just wish the Pens would explain why when in a rebuilding stage, there is room for a guy like Steve Mckenna or Hans Jonsson on your NHL roster. I like how much Mckenna has come around, I think he’s a decent presence, but you can’t sacrifice the potential success of a young player like Kraft, so that Steve Mckenna can be out there. Things like that just don’t make sense to me. Jonsson really better be gone next season, he doesn’t bring any real “veteran” qualities to the team of youngsters, and he gets beat game after game.

As far as the Goaltending situation goes. I think you have to deal one of these guys. Right now I almost don’t even think it matters who. I personally think Caron looks a little unsure in the net sometimes, but his numbers are good playing for just a flat out awful team right now. Hedberg hasn’t shown anything more than this kid, and Aubin is still very young at 25. So I say if we can get something worthwhile for Hedberg in the off-season, go for it. At the same time, I think there is a certain risk at setting a young guy like Caron out there with a shaky young D, where he might get blown apart every other night. That could really shattered a rookie’s confidence. So I think this situation will be interesting. I don’t see the Pens keeping all three goalies if it would equate to Aubin in the minors next year.

Last point of discussion who do the Pens take if they get the 1st overall pick. I say they have to go with Zherdev. They’ve simply got to fill the seats. Anyone who slightly follows hockey knows of Illya Kovalchuk. If you can sell people on the possibility fo that, it might light some fire under some of those fair weather fans. It seems Staal and Andre-Fleury are the other two guys making up the top 3 prospects. Staal may be the safest pick, but I say you have to go for it right now and take Zherdev if they get the top pick. Anyway for anyone who cares about the Pens at this point, I’d love to talk about any of this stuff. By the way, I STRONGLY feel that Mario WILL BE BACK!

14 Responses to The Future of the Flight-less Birds

  1. Bishop7979 says:

    when it comes to your players, remember that Beech is a center, so add him into that cluster F-ck of players fighting for that position but Sivik and Peterson have both played more wing in the NHL then center so swap them out. But I thik you’ve seen the end of Manderville, Pushor, Jonsson and Daigle all are UFA’s next season and wont be back. and as for mario, I agree that he will probably be back, I’m just afraid its going to be to play more of the lifeless hockey he has been playing for the last couple weeks, I’m hoping haveing morozov back as a line mate will at least spark something in him. Also I think you need Mckenna, not only is he now one of the older players on the team, hes the last lockeroom guy you have, plus he’s a protector for the young guys someone to help make them feel like they can do their thing without getting hacked and slahsed and cheapshot out there. Plus the team gave him a 2 year extention and hes now wearing the A. I see the roster looking something like

    Forwards- Mario, Morozov, Straka, Mckenna, Fata, Meloche, Holzinger, Samuelson, Lefebve, Surovy, Abid, Johansson w/ nienimen as the scratch and Sivik/Kraft/Beech as the first callups

    defence- Tarnstrom, Melichar, Rozival, Orpik, Focht, Bouchard w/ Heins as the scratch

    I feel that Caron has shown that he should be the starter over Hedberg, Hedbergs game is gone, look at last night he was way out of his crease, a shot hit him dead on the chest, he failed to control it (even though it was a simple shot to control) and it went to his right into the slot where it was hammered home by leclair i believe. It was a weak goal, and it wsnt surprising to me. If you can get something for Hedberg, make the trade and make next season Carons season to begin to really learn the NHL, he’s what 21? he’ll get better and more comfortable the more games he is playing.

    kehoe needs to go, end of story, find someone who can help teach the young guys the ropes and will set up a system that they can play and grow into. also get rid Glenn patrick, he is only he coach of the minor league team because he’s Craigs brother, let Herb Brooks take it over full time and maybe we would get some production out of our young guys a little sooner.

    I think I covered all the bases so I’m off


  2. Kraftster says:

    True call on the position deal, but the bottom line being just how many players there are. I didn’t think that Pushor was a UFA, but assuming that, then yes, he’ll probably go, although I think it’d be nice for all the young guys if we could keep him around. I didn’t know about Mckenna’s extension, but that changes whether he’ll be there. I suppose you do know guys to protect, I just….Mckenna still is probably one of the worst skaters in the league, and when you have young guys, I just..I don’t know if I like him being around. With the call up of Diagle, I wonder whether that’s saying show us if you can cut it in the NHL now or you are gone next year. Or if that is saying we like your progress at WB we’ll give a shot again meaning next season as well. I just…I don’t know how you can keep Kraft in the minors again. I think his time has got to be now. Beech as well I think. I just don’t know what they are gunna do with all these guys.

    I think Caron should be it too…and with Aubin still only being 25, that’s a young tandem. Yep, Greg’s gotta go.

    What do you think of the draft?

  3. flyersruleclarkstillsucks says:

    it doesn’t matter who they take because when he becomes good he’s gone, why not trade the pick for money!

  4. Kraftster says:

    CBA expires in a year man…

    “once he becomes good” assumes he’ll be a superstar whoever it may be.

    the point is about right now…

  5. Primis says:

    Good points.

    I’ve said the same thing before – the Pens need their young guys playing NOW not later. By the time “later” comes it will be far too late.

    I can’t fathom for the life of me why Beech, Orpik, and Kraft aren’t playing in the NHL right now.

    Pens should trade one of their goalies and get maybe a youngster and a draft pick back in return. Then they need to make some serious noise at this year’s entry draft. And finally, they need to dump guys like McKenna, Daigle, and co.

    Pittsburgh has gone too long losing guys and getting nothing back for them.

  6. guinsfan4life says:

    What is bothering me right now are these things I have heard/read about the Penguins in the last couple weeks (or since the free fall started)

    1. Read the article in the tribune review today ( In the article it flat out states that Mario has considered selling his share in the team, going to the highest bidder as a trade and playing beyond this year. He states that in the long run that “maybe what is best for the franchise”. This is scary. The article makes it seem like this is a remote possibility. For the first time, I am thinking it is.

    2. If the above is true, then what does Mario know what we don’t? Are the penguins in more dire financial straits than what we think? Does he know for sure that we will not get a new arena and is preparing himself for the demise of the franchise? We know recently that Ed Rendell, the governor of PA is cutting all expenses, education and public transportation to name a few.

    Is there any money left for the state to subsidize a new arena for the penguins? I doubt it. Would the public fund a new arena? Does the public have a choice? NOPE!!

    3. All the penguins say is that they have a boatload of talent in the minors and in Europe waiting to come over. The plain simple fact is that all of the players you mentioned above will not be associated with the team next year. Those players are:

    1. lemieux(perhaps on the ice and in the front office).

    2. Straka

    3. Niemenen

    4. Hedberg

    5. Pushor

    6. Manderville

    7. Daigle

    8. Aubin

    9. Morozov

    Now I am thinking those are just a few. That opens up some spots.

    Also, Whitney will probably opt to stay in Boston for his senior year of college. He has had a horrible year this year after doing so well in the Jr. championship. THe only way he would come over is if he skipped his senior season. In that case, they’d still put him in WB.

    Either way this team is NOT going to look like it did this year.

    So okay they have a “boatload” of talent in the minors and in Europe playing. Does that mean you promote players who you normally wouldn’t promote just to get them playing time? That, in essense, would be defeating your purpose.

    Kraft doesn’t deserve to be here. Neither does Beech and half of the players you mentioned. Isn’t the point of the minor league system for players to produce and then move to the next level? I don’t think half of the players have produced to require a promotion to the NHL.

  7. guinsfan4life says:

    The reason why maybe, they arent’ playing in the NHL is cause they haven’t shown that they have developed enough to get a call to be in the NHL.

    Beech has not proved anything to me as of yet, other than the fact he can take a hit (and even that is subject to review), Kraft is a piece of trash that hasn’t lived up to expectations since he arrived here.

  8. Kraftster says:

    What you mentioned about the Trib is definitley very scary, I’ll have to read that. I have myself wondered about if there is something that we as fans do not know. And I think you may have hit it on the head with the arena bit. Mario has consistently said for him to do this he’ll need an arena or to protect his own personal interest for once he’ll have to pull out, so I could see that being something that is going on behind the scenes definitely. Before I really know where to go with a reply, I am not quite sure what you mean about none of those players being associated with the Penguins? They aren’t all UFA’s, and I’m not quite sure why none of them would be associated, and you said there are more?? I don’t know what you mean?

  9. Kraftster says:

    I really don’t know if all those players are for sure gone. I mean really if we had absolutely no intention of signing any of them, I don’t see why they wouldn’t have been traded, judging by the other deadline deals there was obviously a consesus on being out of the playoffs I think. I do think that it’s not likely that Manderville & Pushor will not be back, although I think it’d be good for the younger D if Pushor was around. As far as the others, I don’t see any way that a team would get nothing for any of them. Listed are basically all the NHL caliber players on the squad. I don’t think it’s a very probable scenario that all of those players will be gone. If it did happen with no compensation for any of them, it would truely be an NHL team. But I mean jus think about that scenario, hedberg and Aubin gone? I just find it doubtful that Tallas comes up to back up Caron and the minor leagues are practically completely void of goaltending prospects.

    All that being said, it is likely that some of these guys may not back, opening slots indeed. While there is something to be said for guys maturing in the minors, there is also something to be said for grooming talent in the NHL. The Pens have always been EXTREMELY reluctant to throw guys right in the NHL, or even after a couple years for that matter. 10 guys may start contributing from the same draft year for other teams, while whoever the Pens got sits in the minors. I really don’t k now what Kraft didn’t do this year. He was by no means a star when he was brought up, but 12 points in 31 games. Compare that to the rest of the squad. I guess my problem is I don’t know what the Pens are looking for. Kraft has youth/potential going for him where other guys equally or less productive do not. I am not sure what they want when they bring these guys up. I mean granted Surovy missed a couple D assignments, but every other night it seems like he gets 5 shifts. I think they give up on guys playing in the NHL too soon, and I think they are far to reluctant to bring them up in the first place.

    I might agree more if they Penguins proved that they could groom guys in WB under Greg P. I don’t see that happening, I guess that’s one of my biggest problems. Other teams may have very well coached minor league affiliates who pump out prospects at age 23 or 24 after 3 or 4 years down there, but the Pens are not. I guess more what I was saying about Whitney was that being a 5th pick he SHOULD be ready next year. If you take a guy with a 5th pick, I think he should be ready in a year.

    The future of this team shouldn’t be learning the ropes in WB anymore. I believe a few weeks ago, you wished the pens would just come out and follow suit of a “rebuilding team”. Part of that is giving guys a go in the NHL and not giving up on them. Letting them make their mistakes, but then giving them equal playing time to show that they have learned from them. There are plenty of guys that won’t be any more productive than Kraft or Beech. Let these guys get tim in the nHL now. Thornton and Lecavalier (granted both 1st overall) both started relatively slowly in the NHL….look at them now.

  10. Kraftster says:

    I also think Kraft’s consistent 1 point/game average in WB would be sufficent to warrant him being here.

  11. Habfanforever says:

    As a habs fan I know of one thing that is obvious we can’t have in Montreal (thanks to media and fans) but that Pittsburg could have and that teams like Vancouver, Ottawa and Tampa Bay had and have now risen amongst the elite: PATIENCE.

    Team management in Pittsburg have to give some time for these young players because many of them have tons of potential and are already showing nice skills. Even though they have liquidated many of their top players, their young squad should come along nicely, especially if they’re paired with a guy like Mario. I look at guys like Beech, Fata and Morozov these are young players with heart not to mention nice skill. (I particularly always liked Fata having watched him play for Team Canada in the world Juniors)

    If Lemieux could hang on there for a couple more years, I believe that his presence could highten some of these players standards and Pittsburg could once again be a contender.

  12. Bishop7979 says:

    when it comes to the draft, I’m pretty clueless actually. for about a week or two I’ve been trying to find some sort of info on the guys who might go in the top ten but I havent come across anything yet. I will say adding to the strength in youth thing, remember that we have christensen in our system who just won the bobby clarke award for being the leading scorer in I believe it was the whl (not sure if it was that or one of the other jr leagues) plus we have ben eaves who is a finalist for the hoby baker award this season. so right there thats 2 more “promising prospects” the teams just gotta stay afloat till then.


  13. penguins23 says:

    Here is my belief about the best future for the pittsburgh penguins as a franchise.

    First off, chances are that the complacent Pittsburgh hockey community will lose its team to another city that has yet to have a taste of the NHL. However, that is not for at least 2 years to come.

    As far as talent goes, Here is what I think we can expect the roster to look like next year, assuming a top 3 pick, which has virtually been clinched; along with a short analysis of what each line brings. Parenthesies signify a possible replacement.

    Straka(Abid)-Lemieux-Morozov(Zherdev/Eaves) (Straka *may* be gone) Well, with Mario, Abid and Morozov will both be scoring frequently and hopefully Morozov will have developed consistency, which he had at the start of the season. (through his first 12-15 games he was projected for 90+ points)

    Sivek-Beech-Kraft(Morozov): This line is fast, all are strong on the puck, and both Sivek and Kraft can finish, while Beech is touted as a playmaker.

    Surovy-Petersen(Endicott)-Meloche: this is a hard-nosed group of youngsters that pound games out in the corners and along the boards, and all have OK hands. Look for these guys to be scoring grinders similar to McCarty/Maltby/Holmstrom (although to a much lesser extent initially)

    McKenna-Endicott(Petersen)-Armstrong: This line has size, decent speed, and some grit. Endicott and armstrong can contribute a little bit here and there as well.


    Roszival-Melichar: this pairing has always displayed good chemistry, when they are both healthy, which has been a concern for Melicher. Roszival moves the puck well and can jump in on the rush as well, providing another dimension for this line.

    Orpik-Tarnstrom: Orpik is a VERY punishing hitter, and both of these guys are good puck movers that should help the penguins’ transition game tremendously

    Focht-Bouchard: Bouchard has blazing speed, and Focht is a former 11th overall pick. this should provide a defense that can aid the forecheck well, and punish opposing players in front of the net.

    Heinz or Lintner may be able to fill in as a 7th D-man, but I wouldn’t count on it…

  14. Kraftster says:

    Hmm…there’s some stuff I don’t really agree much with in there. Firstly that line up looks like you are ONLY keeping the youngest guys in the line up and Fata is a young guy too that you don’t have in there. I think his play over the last few weeks has gauranteed him a roster spot next season, barring a terrible preseason next year. Secondly I don’t think you can only have all these young guys out there. Holzinger, Johansson, even Samuelsson are all guys with a little more age that I don’t see playing in the minors. Maybe Johansson, but I think he’s played exteremely well as a two way center and faceoff man. Lintner looks great. I absolutely LOVE how he plays. I wouldn’t exactly call Bouchard’s speed blazing, I Think lintner has as good of speed and is much better with the puck, he’s probably better than half the fowards on the team stick handling. That’s it for a short reply I guess.

    What do you think of the goaltending situation?

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