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The Hextall, Penguins Resolution I Nonetheless Do not Perceive

Former Pittsburgh Penguins ahead Evan Rodrigues signed a one-year, $2 million take care of the Colorado Avalanche final week. Stories point out Rodrigues could have additionally turned down an even bigger provide in the beginning of free company. However after a summer season of GM Ron Hextall’s successes, there stays one choice, with two components, that simply would not compute.

Why signal Kasperi Kapanen to a two-year contract with a $3.2 million AAV that put the crew over the wage cap?

Why signal Kapanen as a substitute of Rodrigues?

Full reward for Hextall this summer season. I’ve managed the seemingly unattainable by signing Bryan Rust, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, and Rickard Rakell. Hextall added Jeff Petry on the blue line and acquired an extra third-round choose within the John Marino commerce, which additionally netted younger (and far cheaper) defenseman Ty Smith.

The Penguins are a greater crew as we speak than they had been in Might. When Brian Burke informed colleague Dave Molinari the identical final week, that wasn’t puffery.

But the Kapanen contract stands out not for its worth, as a result of Kapanen in all probability acquired full market value, if no more, and never for its necessity. The Penguins did not get a lot from Kapan final season.

The Kapanen deal stands alone in an in any other case ebullient summer season as a result of the contract shoved the Penguins’ cap quantity into the crimson. Formally, they’re about $1.4 million over the NHL wage cap. Late in coaching camp, they’ll ship a pair of eligible gamers to the WBS Penguins or put a few gamers who did not make the large squad via waivers. These strikes will get the Penguins just below the cap however not create sufficient cap room to make call-ups ought to they undergo a few accidents or sicknesses.

Hey, COVID remains to be round and you’ll take away a participant for 5 days. A few Nationwide Hockey Now writers had it final week, and it wasn’t nice for them. If a number of gamers get the bug, the Penguins could possibly be shorthanded as a result of they lack cap house to exchange them for a number of video games.

Final season, the New York Islanders season hit a tailspin as a result of they had been caught shorthanded.

It could actually occur.

There are competing narratives surrounding Rodrigues. The primary incorporates disbelief. Rodrigues had by no means earlier than scored near 19 objectives. It was a fluke. He went chilly within the second half of the season. It was a fluke, and he returned to the imply. The Penguins did not win a playoff collection. It would not matter.

The opposite narrative, which is extra reality-based, is that Rodrigues was a distinguished determine when the Penguins wanted him to be. He scored 19 objectives, most of them within the first half of the season, when the Penguins had been with out Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, or simply Malkin. Rodrigues emerged after too many seasons of press field nachos and being a bubble participant, by no means certain of his spot within the Buffalo Sabers or Pittsburgh Penguins lineup.

Because the playoffs approached, Rodrigues once more elevated his recreation. He was additionally probably the greatest Penguins forwards within the Spherical One playoff collection towards the New York Rangers. He scored three objectives and 5 factors within the seven-game collection.

Pittsburgh Penguins Fork within the Street

If reviews are correct, and Rodrigues turned down three years and $10.5 million on the recommendation of his agent, that is a mistake by Rodrigues.

However the Penguins finally paid Kapanen almost the identical cash. That is a mistake by the Penguins.

After 5 seasons within the NHL, Kapanen has been on a curler coaster. True, he is had a greater profession than Rodrigues thus far, nevertheless it was onerous to look at how every match with the Penguins final season and conclude that Kapanen was the participant to maintain.

The purpose totals solely inform slightly little bit of the story. Rodrigues performed each ahead place and crammed almost each position final season. From top-line winger to fourth-line middle, he did all of it.

Kapanen hasn’t cracked the 40-point plateau in three NHL seasons (In equity, he was on tempo within the 2020-21 COVID-shortened season). The Toronto Maple Leafs finally demoted him to fourth-line obligation earlier than the Penguins commerce.

Inconsistency has been a festering drawback for Kapanen, who possesses the expertise to be a premier energy ahead. Nonetheless, after seven years since his NHL debut, maybe that standing is extra hope than expectation.

You, the reader and followers, have full authority to agree with me as we speak however Tweet at me in March after Kapanen scores 30 objectives, “this did not age properly.”

However in a summer season of close to perfection, of shrewd price strikes and participant acquisition (not less than within the quick time period. We’ll see in regards to the lengthy contracts in 4 years), going over the cap with Kapanen on the expense of Rodrigues is one choice I do not get.

Ought to the Penguins want top-six assist in the center or on the left this season, I believe the legend of E-Rod will develop. He can even have a wholesome probability at a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, additional cementing this lament.

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