Tag: Daniel Winnik

Daniel Sedin Sheldon Brookbank

Would Pittsburgh really make a play for Brandon Saad? (Updated)


CHICAGO — At the moment, Brandon Saad is a key part of a Chicago Blackhawks team looking to win its third Stanley Cup in the last six seasons.

Not long from now, though, Saad will be something else — a restricted free agent.

And that has people talking.

On TSN’s Insider Trading yesterday, Pierre LeBrun offered this nugget (transcript courtesy Today’s Slapshot):

[Saad’s] a guy you’ve heard his name attached to offer sheets maybe because the Hawks have all of these salary cap problems. I’ll tell you this. I know this. He’s a Pittsburgh native and the Penguins do have interest. What a splash that would make. They need a top-6 winger.

I don’t think that Brandon Saad is going anywhere. The Blackhawks covet him way too much. But it’s worth noting, the Penguins like the player.

There’s also this, from DK on Pittsburgh Sports’ Josh Yohe:

[Penguins GM] Jim Rutherford can’t comment on other teams’ players because of NHL tampering rules, but I mentioned Saad as an example when posing a general question to the Penguins’ GM about pursuing restricted free agents.

He isn’t against it.

“Let me say this about restricted free agents out there: We’ll always play within the rules,” Rutherford said. “If there is a situation that comes up, we’ll think about it.

“As long as it’s OK under the CBA, if there’s a player out there that we think can make us better, we won’t be afraid to consider making an offer.”

Now before we go too deep here, remember — offer sheets are rarely signed (Brough broke down the reasons why quite thoroughly last week.) It also seems really, really unlikely Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman would let his prized youngster go under any circumstances; last week, Bowman flatly told the Chicago Tribune he’ll get Saad signed.

But it’s easy to see why there’s smoke around Saad-to-Pittsburgh.

As mentioned above, there’s the hometown connection. The Pens are also always on the lookout for wingers to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and the 22-year-old Saad, a blossoming star that scored a career-high 23 goals this year, would be more of a long-term solution (rather than some of the short-term fixes the club tried previously.)

And then there’s Chicago’s financial future.

How much can the ‘Hawks afford to pay Saad? Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews start pulling down $10 million cap hits next year and Bowman has his eye on an extension for Brent Seabrook, who’s unrestricted after next season. On the RFA front, Marcus Kruger and Joakim Nordstrom need new deals this year, and Andrew Shaw the next.

Now remember — for all this talk about how an offer sheet would make sense, it just doesn’t happen all that often. The last one signed was in 2013 (Ryan O’Reilly with Calgary) and the last player to actually leave via the offer sheet?

Eight years ago. When Dustin Penner bolted Anaheim to join the Oilers.

Update: It’s worth noting that, because of the Daniel Winnik trade at this year’s deadline, Pittsburgh doesn’t own its own second-round pick at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — which they’d all but assuredly need to sign Saad to an offer sheet. This doesn’t rule out the possibility of acquiring him via trade (or, trading with Toronto to get the pick back), but it does put the rumors in a different light.

Rutherford: Pittsburgh ‘very appealing’ for free agents, even with ownership situation

Jim Rutherford

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford says the big news of this week — that owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle are exploring a possible sale — won’t affect how the club works free agency.

“Nothing changes as far as how we run hockey operations,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We have a great city to play in and the best facilities of anyone in the league with the opening of our new practice facility.

“That should be very appealing to a free agent.”

Just prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, TSN broke news that Lemieux and Burkle hired Morgan Stanley “to explore the possibility of selling some or all of the NHL franchise.”

Shortly thereafter, the Pens released a statement:

“We conduct periodic reviews of our business and, because we have received several inquiries about the franchise in recent years, we decided to engage Morgan Stanley for their insight and counsel.

“After buying the team out of bankruptcy, ensuring its long-term future in Pittsburgh and creating a strong foundation for continued success, we believe it is time to explore our options.”

Before the club can begin exploring free agents, it needs to reach decisions on the eight players set to become UFAs: Daniel Winnik, Maxim Lapierre, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau, Paul Martin, Thomas Greiss, Christian Ehrhoff and Craig Adams. One decision has already been made — Adams has been told he won’t be brought back — and Ehrhoff’s agent recently suggested his client will go to July 1.

The club also needs a new deal for RFA forward Beau Bennett, and RFA d-men Ian Cole and Brian Dumoulin.

Overtime format highlights competition committee meeting agenda

Colin Campbell

The topic of 3-on-3 overtime is one of a few topics on the agenda for Thursday’s competition committee meeting.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes we could see a 3-on-3 overtime format tested during the preseason, but not implemented for the 2015-16 regular season.

Also on the agenda for this week’s meeting is the coach’s challenge, the idea of the center in the defensive zone putting his stick down first during face-offs and the salary cap escalator.

Recommendations made at the competition committee meeting would have to be voted on by the NHL’s Board of Governors in late June prior to being implemented for the 2015-16 season.

The aforementioned topics were all initially discussed at the March general managers’ meetings in Boca Raton, Florida.

General managers Ken Holland, Don Maloney, David Poile along with Ed Snider will represent league (with Colin Campbell in a non-voting role) at the meeting in New York.

Mike Cammalleri, Cory Schneider, Kevin Shattenkirk and Daniel Winnik represent the NHLPA (with Mathieu Schneider in a non-voting role).

Agent: Ebbett getting European interest, but focused on staying with Pens

Pittsburgh Penguins v Dallas Stars

This week, a report from news outlet Berner Zeitung claimed that SC Bern, the powerhouse Swiss league team coached by Guy Boucher, was likely to sign Pittsburgh forward Andrew Ebbett.

Today, Ebbett’s agent clarified the situation.

“Andrew has had a lot of interest from European clubs,” Legacy Global Sports’ Alec Schall told PHT, via email. “At this time we are focusing on returning to the Pittsburgh organization.”

Ebbett, 32, just wrapped the last of a two-year, two-way, $1.1M deal that paid $550,000 at the NHL level. He was up and down between Pittsburgh and AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, scoring six points in 24 games with the Pens; he also lit up the American League, as he’s done throughout his career — Ebbett had 44 points in 44 games for the Baby Pens, and another seven in eight playoff appearances.

With over 200 NHL games on his resume and some very good years in the past — lest we forget that, in 2008-09, Ebbett scored 32 points in 48 games with the Ducks — it’s not surprising to hear the pending UFA wants to stick with in Pittsburgh.

But how that shakes out remains to be seen. The team projects to have around $11 million in cap space, with a number of other veteran UFAs to make decisions on, specifically d-men Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff, and forwards Blake Comeau, Steve Downie, Daniel Winnik and Maxim Lapierre.

On the RFA front, Beau Bennett and Ian Cole need new deals. It’s also worth noting Pittsburgh has already told 38-year-old forward Craig Adams he won’t be brought back next season.

Penguins need more from their depth forwards

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins

Jim Rutherford knows Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can’t do it all. In fact, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ GM has talked openly about his team needing to “win games with our third and fourth lines,” should the two superstars get shut down.

Unfortunately for Rutherford, his third and fourth lines — dramatically altered since last season — aren’t delivering. Beau Bennett has just three goals in 46 games; Maxim Lapierre has no goals in 32; Craig Adams has one in 68; and it’s not like Daniel Winnik and Nick Spaling are lighting it up either.

Thank goodness for Brandon Sutter and his respectable 19 goals. He was the only to score Sunday versus Philly.

Meanwhile, Steve Downie’s 14 goals aren’t bad. If only he could stop taking so many penalties.

This is not news to Penguins fans. Forward depth was an issue that needed fixing after last season. It was an unknown heading into this one.

“That’s what teams try to do to us,” Rutherford said in February. “They try to shut [Crosby and Malkin] down. If they shut those guys down, and you don’t have enough balance on your third and fourth line where you can score periodically, then you can’t win.”

The Penguins head into tonight’s suddenly huge game versus the Senators with just three wins in their last 12. Of the 19 goals they’ve managed during that stretch, Crosby has either scored or assisted on 11 of them. It’s time for some of his teammates to help out.