Wednesday, July 7, 2010

One Week Later

We are now about one week into the NHL Free Agency period, and the Penguins have made some moves. The first two were major splashes that were to be expected on the blue-line. The others were depth moves that could signal the end of the big spending period and show the Shero has faith in the organization's pipeline.

Zbynek Michalek (D): 5 years/$20 million

Scouting Report: Michaek is a shutdown defenseman with offensive ability to work on second powerplay unit. However, he does not use his 6'2" frame to his benefit and passes up the opportunity to shoot way too much.

How he fits the Penguins: Much like the loved Rob Scuderi, Michalek fits the mold of defenseman that the Pens were lacking last year. Pairing him with Orpik would be the 2010 version of the Gill/Scuderi tandem.

What we can expect: 5 G, 20 A, 25 Pts, -5 +/-, 40 PIM, 2 PPG, 125 Shots, 22:30 TOI

Paul Martin (D): 5 years/$25 million

Scouting Report: Paul Martin is a mobile defenseman that is able to eat up ice time when needed and also provide an offensive touch. His downfall would be that he isn't all that physical against opponents.

How he fits the Penguins: Many are looking for Martin to be the replacement for Gonchar on the powerplay, but he will most likely end up as the second defenseman on the top unit. Pairing him with Letang would allow Kris to continue his focus on bettering his defensive tatics while still having the offensive possibilities from either defenseman in the pairing.

What we can expect: 5 G, 30 A, 35 Pts, +10 +/-, 20 PIM, 2 PPG, 100 Shots, 23:30 TOI

Ryan Craig (LW): 1 year/$0.500 million

Scouting Report: This winger has the ability to play any forward position and is willing to grind out some points and stick up for his teammates. Craig's style of play will often get him injured and he lacks the creativity to add another dimension to his game.

How he fits the Penguins: The first of three depth signings this week, Craig could be in the mix for a roster spot with the current prospects seeing as he has played in almost 200 NHL games. With that said, the projected line-up has Craig starting the year in the AHL.

What we can expect: 20 G, 20 A, 40 Pts, -5 +/-, 50 PIM, 5 PPG, 125 Shots, 15:00 TOI (AHL)

Brett Sterling (LW): 1 year/$0.500 million

Scouting Report: Sterling has a good, accurate shot and will push it every shift. Brett lacks size at the NHL level and is not sound in his defensive responsibilities.

How he fits the Penguins: Anoter depth signing by Shero at the wings, Sterling has produced very well at the AHL level, but has not shown much in his few games at the NHL level. This signing seems like a low-risk, high-reward if Sterling happens to crack the NHL lineup and is able to produce at a similar rate to say Tyler Kennedy early in his career.

What we can expect: 40 G, 40 A, 80 Pts, +10 +/-, 100 PIM, 15 PPG, 125 Shots, 15:00 TOI (AHL)

Andrew Hutchinson (D): 1 year/$0.500 million

Scouting Report: Andrew can light the lamp from the defensive position and has good size to compliment his skill. However, he can be inconsistent at times and lacks the defensive skills needed to see big minutes at the NHL level.

How he fits the Penguins: The most recent signing for the Penguins, Hutchinson will bring some veteran firepower to the blue-line in the minors. This can only help the younger players gain some offensive skill to compliment their style of play from the back end.

What we can expect: 15 G, 35 A, 50 Pts, +5 +/-, 70 PIM, 5 PPG, 100 Shots, 15:00 TOI (AHL)

So there are your five signings for the first week of Free Agency. With the depth signings, the door is now open for some prospects to make an impact at training camp to earn a spot on this team. If Shero is done going after either a top-six winger or a third-line center, expect a line-up similar to this when the puck drops for the first game of the season:


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