I don't really mind Pierre. When he does his weekly interview with Hradek and Mears, he's a surprisingly likeable person, same with Edzo. I think they both play up their quirks for NBC, to the point where they become caricatures of themselves. Whatever sells the show, I guess.
As for biases - well, for starters, Pierre likes the Wings. He's made that clear. But I get the argument. Really, I think it's whichever team is controlling the game, that's the one he's going to talk up. Because if he doesn't, well, then he looks biased. So he can't win. And yeah, he's going to pay special attention to Crosby, but I've never gotten the impression that it comes from this sinister place in the darkest region of his soul. He likes Crosby because he's a great player, and even if that weren't the case, you know there's a mandate to Sell the Sport (and the show), so Crosbyvision is happening no matter what, with or without Pierre, whether we like it or not.
Edzo. I do think it's pretty clear that he's not the biggest fan of the Wings, but we blow it way out of proportion. He has his Edzoisms that he needs to get in at least once a night, regardless of the teams that are playing. Subtle interference, dangerous and reckless way to take a hit along the boards, four-on-four means D get D and forwards get forwards, "You cannot allow [insert thing you cannot allow]," etc.
But getting back on topic - I can see Pierre being a pretty good GM, but, honestly, I don't have much to base that on, and I could just as easily see it being a disaster. He knows his hockey, and he seems to be pretty ok in dealing with hockey people. But being the general manager of an NHL organization is a crazy-big job. It's more than just knowing your hockey and doing scripted two-minute "interviews" with cliche-packing hockey players. It's more than knowing where everyone played his junior hockey. I'm sure there's more to him than that, but enough to guide the Penguins to the multiple Cups they feel they deserve? That's the question.
At the time, Nyquist + Smith + a 1st would've been borderline insulting. "We want your cornerstone defenseman, but we don't want to give up a key roster player to get him." Or, basically, "I think you might be an idiot."
He has steadily improved over the past two years, and I strongly believe he will be a top pairing defenseman in the near future. Only time will tell...
Smith's a top-pairing defenseman right now, though, admittedly, it's a learn-from-the-master situation. Still, he was one of our better players in the Boston series. He largely restored my confidence in him by playing to his strengths. He's got size, he's not afraid to use it, he's an exceptional skater, and - as long as he keeps it simple - he's one of our better puck-movers on the back end. I think if he gets time on the power play and first pairing, his production skyrockets and he becomes a legitimate asset in our top four. Might as well put him in a position to succeed and find out if he can do it, provided he remembers to keep it simple.
Ouellet playing to me means that they think XO is safer. Which he is. He is great defensively, very reliable. I still look at our defense and see one of the worst groups in the NHL in terms of offensive play. I don't know where we ended up but I know at one point this seasons we were close to last in the league in points from our D. We have no one to man our 2nd PP, heck I don't even think Kronwall is that great at manning the 1st PP. XO doesn't help with that, neither does Marchenko.
We do need more "O" from our "D," particularly with the man advantage. But Almqvist isn't our only option, even if we don't sign or trade for a top-four guy. On the roster, Smith should probably be seeing time on the power play. Of the kids, Sproul stands out as a bona fide weapon with the man advantage.
The New School is size, mobility, and being good with the puck. The concern with Almqvist is that he's neither big nor an especially good skater. (And he's not very good on the defensive side of the puck.) So, even when he's quarterbacking the power play (which is pretty much the only situation where he's not going to be a liability), if he gets caught flat-footed at the blue line and coughs up the puck to a speedy NHL PKer, he doesn't have the skating to be able to bail himself out. That was an issue with Alfredsson this season.
They better add a bag of pucks to make that deal more fair.
In all seriousness, if anyone here seriously expects the team to look much different going into next season will be disappointed. Mantha will be in the AHL, there will be no big trades, any FA additions will be older players on short term deals with moderate cap hits.
Normally, I'd fully agree. But I'm hoping the frustration Z and D have expressed, and the way we were torched in the first round by a team we absolutely can't compete with without making a major change or two, and the wealth of tradeable assets, and the significant chunk of cap space we should be clearing up, and Babs calling our recent playoff futility a "five year drought," and our core only having a few good years left...I want to believe Kenny will approach things differently this summer. I'm hoping there's an honest push to really, truly compete for Lord Stanley's Cup, as opposed to making the playoffs and treating everything past that point as a bonus.
Actually, the thing that really gives me hope is the Kings' run. One of my absolute pet peeves is referencing their 2012 run as this magical Cinderella story that nobody could've predicted because they were the eighth seed. Bulls***. They won because they were an incredible team. Now they're proving it wasn't a fluke. They're proving you have to be really f****** good to be a dominant postseason team and a true perennial contender.
I'll be rooting for the Rangers 110% (sorry, haroldsnepsts), but I won't be devastated if the Kings win it. I certainly won't be shocked. (Who's actually picking NY to win this? Aside from their fans and people who don't watch Western Conference hockey.)
I'm expecting Kopitar to have a really huge series. With all due respect to the Blueshirts, they don't have a Toews or a Kane. The weight has been lifted, the shackles loosed.
What a matchup tho. Best goalie in the world in Lundqvist (IMHO), best defenseman in the world in Doughty (IMHO), Carter and St. Louis trading end-to-end chances back and forth with blinding speed, both teams are defense-first but can really open things up if necessary...this should be good. Realgud.
My impression is Engelland is gone. I mean from Pittsburgh. He's going to want a raise, and they're not in a position to give him one, so he probably goes to Edmonton. That's what I've heard from Pens fans.
Not to be grumpy me, but Murray is terrible, and the rest of those guys are largely-inconsequential depth guys. With the kids we have on the farm, I don't see us going for one of them unless it really makes sense. I think my ideal scenario, re: our bottom pairing, is Ericsson gets bumped down to the third pairing - because we land a Realgud top-four defenseman - and he embraces his gritty, stay-at-home, crease-clearing, bare-bones basics side. Put him with Marchenko and that's a Realgud bottom pairing that can shut down, block shots, kill penalties, play heavy in front our net and in our corners - and also move the puck really well and put some points up.
Dustin Tokarski. John Gibson. Frederik Andersen. Jake Allen. Martin Jones. Chad Johnson. Ben Bishop. Robin Lehner. Semyon Varlamov. Jonathan Bernier. Alex Stalock. Darcy Kuemper. Petr Mrazek. Et al. They're all quite good and all quite cap-friendly. And there were a few nice veteran surprises, like Ilya Bryzgalov.
And then we have Jimmy Howard. Above average, but coming off a very disappointing, injury-riddled season. 30 years old, a cap hit of a little more than $5M for the next four or five years, has never gone especially deep in the playoffs. And the understanding - drilled into our heads through repetition - is that he is our guy, no matter what, hardcore, forevz.
Was the big-money extension a mistake? Could we maybe see one of those younger fellows doing for us what Jimmy Howard has done for us and only costing a fraction of Jimmy Howard's cap hit? Would a, say, Mrazek-Hiller tandem be so terrible? Is there a reason why we're so loyal to Jimmy Howard? Certainly we can't say, "It's almost impossible to acquire a Realgud goalie in this day and age." Unlike the borderline mythical Top-Four Defenseman, the Realgud Goalie doesn't seem all that hard to come by. Indeed, we have at least one in the pipeline who's ready for a legitimate job in the big league.
I think the biggest challenge for the Red Wings is that they don't have a Drew Doughty or a P.K. Subban or Oliver Ekman-Larson on their blue line. I think Niklas Kronwall is a heck of a player and Jonathan Ericsson is a nice player. Danny DeKeyser has also been really impressive but he's hurt again. They just don't have one of those game-changers. Without having that, it's pretty difficult to make plays and help get the puck out of your zone and get the puck out of trouble. Detroit doesn't have one of those guys right now.
Of course, they had one of the game's all-time greats in Nicklas Lidstrom. They haven't filled that hole since he retired in 2012. Obviously, Nicklas Lidstroms don't come along every day. But at the same time, look at the L.A. Kings. They had Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson and they were able to trade Johnson because they had Slava Voynov. That's a lot of good D.
When you look at a lot of the top teams, including the Boston Bruins, quite often they have one, if not two or three, of those guys on the back end. Detroit has some room to improve in that area.
And before someone says "YEAH BUT NAME ONE REALLY GOOD DEFENSEMAN WHO'S BEEN TRADED (HA! THEREFORE WE CAN'T TRADE FOR ONE BECAUSE IT'S IMPOSSIBLE. THESE STICKS KEEP THOSE LIONS AWAY REAL GOOD)"...
ST. PAUL – The moment Mike Babcock learned the San Jose Sharks had acquired defenseman Brent Burns, he instantly got the look of a guy who’s [sic] team just let one get away.
His Red Wings are looking for a defenseman to replace the retired Brian Rafalski, but it was the playoff rival Sharks who pried the talented Burns away from the Minnesota Wild in a blockbuster trade.
“They just hit a home run,” Babcock said of the Sharks. “That’s a gold medal pick. I’m pissed off.”
Can you believe that? We still had Nick Lidstrom at that point, yet Babcock was, by his own candid admission, pissed off that we didn't add this top-four defenseman! I ask if you can believe that because, well, here we are, it's several years later, we have no Rafalski, no Lidstrom, and still no "Brent Burns" (solid top-four defenseman). And, oh yeah, our core players are that much older*.
*(Datsyuk is 35, slowing down, and making incredibly uncharacteristic mistakes on the ice. Z is 33 and has been battling back problems which recently pushed him to the ultimate measure of last resort for a pro athlete: back surgery. Kronwall is 33 and is being leaned on way too heavily. [Which is the whole point here, really.] Franzen is 34 and probably one concussion away from early retirement. Hell, our kids are barely even "kids." We talk about Smith like he's 20 when he's actually 25. Young, but not a kid.)
Kenny needs to be aggressive. He needs to be ruthless. He can't be completely averse to risk. To which he'd say:
"Well, we need to draft well and build from within. We can't go chasing big names. We can't go out and get a guy every time we have a hole to fill. That's not the way you win these days. If you look at the top teams in the league right now, they got to where they are today by drafting well and developing well. Now they're reaping the benefits. Blah blah blah."
And yet, he was in on Suter and Parise. And he was in on Edler. And he was in on Bouwmeester. And he kicked the tires on Weber. And he kicked the tires on Salo. And he actually brought in two guys in Colaiacovo and Quincey (and a third in DeKeyser, if you want to count him that way). And he also brought in Alfredsson and Weiss. And he traded one of our best prospects and a second-round pick for a few weeks of Legwand.