Mario Lemieux and Ron Francis headline Penguins roster for 2011 Winter Classic alumni game

The 2011 Winter Classic is sure to be a huge spectacle in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day with the Penguins and Sidney Crosby taking on the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin, the day before is shaping up to be a spectacle all its own.

On December 31st the Penguins and Capitals will have a game between respective members of their alumni. If you think that this sounds like a great idea given some of the stars in the Penguins and Caps history, you’d be 100% right. The Penguins are sparing no expense in trying to ice one of the best alumni teams ever assembled.

Mario Lemieux will be joined by fellow Hall of Famers Paul Coffey, Ron Francis and Bryan Trottier and “youngster” Bill Guerin as the Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni team takes on the Washington Capitals Alumni Dec. 31 at Heinz Field as part of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic weekend.

Uh… Wow. Full rosters for both teams will be available in the near future but for now we’ve got this to get us excited.

Getting Lemieux and Francis out there is impressive in its own right but adding Coffey and Trottier, both who made their name with different dynasties in the 80s (Coffey with Edmonton and Trottier with the Islanders) it’s an incredible assembly of hall of fame talent. Bill Guerin getting to suit up as an alumni so soon after retiring from the NHL makes for a nice perk. Let’s just go ahead and say he’ll probably be the guy doing the bulk of the scoring.

If you’re wondering who the Caps will throw out there against this insane crew, all that is known as of now is 80s and 90s great Peter Bondra. As for who else we’d like to see out there from both teams, our lists are huge. Right off the top of our head though we’re hoping that the goalies facing off against each other are Tom Barrasso for Pittsburgh and Olaf Kolzig for Washington.

We’d also really enjoy seeing tough guys Ulf Samuelsson and Dale Hunter get out there and throw down for old time sake, but getting Samuelsson away from the Coyotes bench where he’s an assistant coach might be tough. Perhaps ESPN analyst Matthew Barnaby can get the call in his place.

This is one moment where we’re really upset that Jaromir Jagr is playing in the KHL as having him able to suit up for both teams to get booed by their fans would be hilariously entertaining all on its own. Of course, the thought of getting Lemieux and Jagr together one more time, even in an old timers game setting like this, would be amazing.

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    Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

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    Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

    “Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

    Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

    That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

    Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

    “We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

    Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

    You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

    Just don’t bet the house on it.

    Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

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    Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

    The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

    Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

    From the press release:

    Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

    Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

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    Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

    According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

    Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

    “Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

    But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

    Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.

    Dumoulin agrees to six-year contract with Penguins

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    Brian Dumoulin won’t need his arbitration hearing today.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.

    From the press release:

    Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin‘s empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 

    Dumoulin is coming off of a contract that paid him just $800,000 in each of the past two seasons.

    With Dumoulin signed, Pittsburgh now has five defenseman under contract for at least the next three seasons, the other four being Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, and Matt Hunwick.

    The Pens still have one more arbitration case in forward Conor Sheary. His hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

    Related: Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins