Late yesterday afternoon in Pittsburgh, the Pens announced their first player move of the off-season. Teddy Blueger was re-signed to a 2yr deal with an AAV of $2.2M. While this isn’t a world shattering move, it may give insight into who the Pens will be protecting for next week’s expansion draft…. but maybe not.
Let’s take the deal at face value. I have seen estimates that Blueger’s value ranged from $2.3 to $3M AAV salary bracket. While I’m not an arbitration specialist or an evaluation of talent, a 2 yr/$4.4M can be viewed either as a bargain or a realization from Blueger that he wouldn’t find much more value as a RFA. Another option to at least consider is that this is only a formality before Seattle selects him in the expansion draft.
Also consider what Blueger brings as a player: a bottom six center, great on the penalty killer, not so great on the defensive side. In his 140 games he has 54 points (22G, 32A), is a +19, and has more short handed goals (4) than any other player on the Pens since his debut. With Malkin missing a significant portion of next season, there is a massive hold at center that needs fields and not a lot of cap space to fill it. The point is, while Blueger isn’t THAT guy, he is a reliable option and isn’t the worst option at center on the 3rd line.
Now about that expansion draft…
It’s fair to say that while the Pens have had a terrible showing in the last three playoffs, they aren’t a “bad” team and have quality players. One of them will be lost in the expansion draft. Instead of laying out the list and their Pro’s and Con’s, I’ll cut to the chase and say who I’m okay with losing:
Jason Zucker: I am a fan of Zucks, but he hasn’t been what the organization, fans, or his ownself probably expected. Granted, he has been injured more than healthy, but he hasn’t really clicked with the roster. He also has a $5.5M cap hit for the next two years. While Seattle probably won’t take him, if exposed, I wouldn’t cry in my smooth ambler if they need.
Jared McCann: I know, this is heresy to Pens fans. He’s only 25, doesn’t take up a horrible amount of cap space, and people know his name. However, he is all over the place in his play. Sometimes he is THE Jared McCann who makes you excited to see him on the ice, while the next few games he deserves to sit in the press box. Seattle will be more interested in him than almost anyone else on the list.
Tristian Jarry: Let’s all sit back and laugh at this one. In fact, if THIS does happen I’ll buy the first 10 readers a drink! The Pens do need to fix their issues at goaltending, and they can only protect one netminder. While Seattle wouldn’t take Jarry, I will gladly buy those 10 lucky readers a drink if they do.