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!