The Penguins find themselves with roughly $6 million to work with in Free Agency. While there are ways they can make that stretch a good bit the most ideal thing for them to do is dump at least one of their three bad contracts and get some relief. Unfortunately that may not happen.
It’s probably safe to assume that everyone realizes that Scuderi ($3.375m), Kunitz ($3.85m) and Sutter’s ($3.3m) contracts are the ones that should be moved. The Penguins had an opportunity to gain some relief by buying out one of theirs, idealy Scuderi’s, prior to Free Agency. However they opted not to do that. So here we sit, the Penguins still needing a good bit of help and holes filled with only $6 million (at most) to spend.
I’m sure many of you feel since Boston and Philadelphia can move inactive player contracts that the Penguins should have no problem moving active players for little return. Unfortunately that isn’t the case and here is why.
Over the past few months our own Benedikt Bäumler wrote two articles about Sutter and why he is someone the Penguins need to move on from. (Brandon Sutter By Comparison – The Plain Hard Truth & Brandon Sutter By Comparison – The Plain Hard Truth Hasn’t Changed)
If you haven’t read either of those articles I highly urge you to as they are excellent reads on the Penguins young center. But I will quickly show a few stats here for you to consider.
His Hero Chart in many ways shows you why he is not suited to be a 3rd line center. He is very incapable of producing at any decent or consistent rate, he is about average (for third liners) defensively and he really doesn’t make those around him better. (as seen below)
So if we, as fans, have access to this information why would any team be willing to give any type of asset, be it a draft pick or prospect, for him? Let’s also not forget to see that his $3.3 million is $1.3 higher than Brad Richards contract was last season, and Richards is a much, much better option in a bottom six role than Sutter is.
I’m not saying moving Brandon wont happen or that it is impossible, but you need to realize that all the information we have the other 29 GM’s in the league has as well, if not more. They know he will be a UFA next summer and they know he isn’t worth his $3.3 million dollars, so it might be time to realize Sutter’s tenure in Pittsburgh might be far from over.
There is no denying Kunitz has been getting a bad wrap for the better part of a year now. After he and Crosby tore up the league two years ago and then attempted to do the same in Sochi during the Olympics Kunitz has been merely a shell of his former self. Does that mean he isn’t a good hockey player worthy of wearing a Penguins jersey? No, what it means is his time as a top six forward has come to an end. The reason why he has been talked about so much in connections with trades is because he is still a valuable asset to have on a team, just not at $3.85 million a year.
Impressively enough his advance stats still show him to be a capable top six forward, unfortunately this is one time where I would ask you all to forgo that information and remember what you saw the last half of the previous season.
As seen above and like I mentioned Kunitz appears to be a formidable top six player. Unfortunately for Chris, these stats do not tell the whole truth.
You can say it was due to injury that he struggled last year but the past two years he dropped off around the mid-way point of the season and struggled from that point on. This is what makes him such an interesting asset for a bottom six role. He would play less minutes, he would not be counted on as much and he would still have the ability to play to his strengths. Granted I believe he would need a better Center than Sutter to be truly affective. But the question is, at least from the Penguins perspective, is it worth paying him $3.85 of the cap to maybe have a successful season or two on the third line?
Kunitz is surely the most attractive asset the Pens have to offer that isn’t a Top Six player or one of their up and coming prospects. The problem though is his cap hit and his uncertainty. Maybe he will be moved to a team who can use some veteran leadership, but my money is on him starting the season in a Penguins sweater.
Rob Scuderi has come a long way since being dubbed “The Missing Piece” during the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. Once touted as one of the better stay-at-home defenders in the league Scuds has seen his stock drop in a rapid fashion. Could it be age or could it be the game has just changed to much for him? Either way He and is $3.375 million cap hit is not worth having on a the Penguins or any team.
As you can see his stats show him to be just slightly better than a 5/6 d-man. In what league would a 5/6 man get paid nearly three in a half million dollars? To top it off he has slowed down quite a bit and besides his willingness to speak up as a leader he brings very little to the team.
Again it would be ideal for the Penguins to move a contract like his out. With defenseman like Dumoulin and Oleksy more than capable of playing his minutes and at a cheaper cap hit, they need to find a way to rid themselves of Rob.
Unfortunately no team will want to take on his contract unless it is a swap of bad contracts or the Penguins retain some of the salary. Neither of which I see Rutherford doing.
So can any of these three be moved? Yea, it’s possible but if they aren’t that doesn’t mean the Penguins can’t make other moves to help them clear some space.
Thanks for reading!
– Robert Slavinsky