I spent the weekend at the 2014 NHL Draft, held in the lovely city of Philadelphia. As always, Flyers fans impressed with their ability to boo and taunt literally everything, including dead silence. I even spotted a fan with the Flyers logo tattooed on his head! Dedication!
All jokes aside, Philly put on an excellent show. Though in enemy territory, the new management with the Pittsburgh Penguins proved that they were ready to shake things up. Rutherford and Co, fueled by coffee brought to them by Bill Guerin’s son, selected Finland’s Kasperi Kapanen (LW) 22nd overall. The team also traded away James Neal to Nashville for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spalding.
As always, Penguins fans are expecting the team to physically burn to the ground from these moves, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. This year’s injury to Pascal Dupuis proved that the Pens have little depth at LW, with folks like Chuck Kobasew serving in Dupuis’ place alongside Sidney Crosby. Dupuis is expected to return at the start of the season, but at age 35 can’t be relied on for long term support. Kapanen might be able to fill that void.
Meanwhile, the Neal move sends a headshot-prone winger away for a solid second line forward in Hornqvist. Spalding is a reliable bottom-six guy. Best of all? Spalding and Hornqvist combined cost about as much as Neal alone. Of course, seeing a high scoring player leave the Burgh is always tough, but this move might actually pan out to our benefit.
Pens GM Rutherford expressed that he will likely not be resigning any of the eleven unrestricted free agents on July 1st, however. The Pens will sorely miss Jokinen and Niskanen, who were easily two of their best performers in this year’s playoffs. Orpik, Glass, Goc, Stempniak, and others will be replaceable.
The loss on defense will require the likes of Simon Despres and Brian Dumoulin to step it up this season.