Today is July 1st, which signifies a few things:
- Today is Canada Day. For those of you that don’t know what Canada Day is, it would be their Independence Day. And don’t feel bad for not knowing that either because I just had to google it before I blogged about here myself.
- In three days, America turns 241 years old. Only downside is that it happens to fall on a Tuesday. A TUESDAY. Stupid.
- Finally, today is the first official day of NHL Free Agency. And that would be why I’m inside blogging while the rest of you are outside Dartying it up like you should be (on a side note, #Pray4Peep).
Now, let’s get down to it.
- Antti Niemi (G)
Also, shoutout to me for breaking this before the TSN guys (even though I didn’t have a reliable source, and I used the process of elimination to predict this considering news leaked out that Anders Nilsson was signing with the Canucks).
With the departure of Flower, Antti Niemi will serve as the new backup goaltender to Matt Murray. Many people shit their pants initially on twitter when they found out Niemi was signing in Pittsburgh, including notable fuckface Rob Rossi.
But here’s the reality: this is a great signing for the Penguins. Sure, Niemi had a bad year last year in Dallas (12-12-4 record, including a .892 save % and 3.30 GAA), but it’s not every day you cherry pick a backup goaltender that’s won a Stanley Cup. Not to mention the fact that he has similar career numbers to the man he’s replacing.
And that deal? A STEAL. 1 year for $700,000 is nothing. Besides, if he shits the bed, it will be Tristan Jarry time sooner than later. Niemi’s essentially a stopgap between now and whenever the Penguins deem Jarry to be NHL ready. With that said, I’m officially declaring this signing a win (yeah, I just did that).
- Matt Hunwick (D)
Gotta be honest. I had no fucking clue who Matt Hunwick was until today, and yet I still haven’t done solid research on him other than the fact that he’s a 32-year old left handed defenseman that used to play for the Maple Leafs. But alas! The man himself was kind enough to break down his skills for us:
Getting back and moving the puck quick is something the Penguins defense is pretty good at doing. If Hunwick keeps to his word, it seems like he’ll fit in just fine in a third line pairing. And besides, someone needed to come in and replace the Ronster. So it looks like Hunwick is that guy. Also, in case you were wondering, Hunwick will be busy this offseason re-siding his barn.
- Nick Bonino (C)
This one hurts, but I’m happy for Bonino. The man played his balls off in two years with the Penguins and was an absolute warrior in the playoffs. It’s going to be tough to replace a guy that skated two periods on a broken shin and shot himself up a week and a half later to skate with the Stanley Cup over his head. But Bonino was going to get paid, and the Penguins just couldn’t afford what he was asking for. It’s kind of weird that he pulled the bizarro Marian Hossa by joining the team he just helped beat (sort of) in the Stanley Cup Final, but it looks like he’ll be a good fit for a team that could use help at center in Smashville. If I had one knock on Bonino, it would be the fact that he seemed incapable of referring to Pittsburgh in the correct manner (i.e. Pittsburgh).
And don’t blame this on the 140 character limit. I’ve seen him say/tweet “Pitt” multiple times before. Everyone in Pittsburgh knows if you’re referring to “Pitt,” you’re referring to the University of Pittsburgh. Huge pet peeve of mine. Jordan Staal did this, too. It’s just something that makes the people saying it look sort of oblivious, and it drives me absolutely nuts for some weird reason. Nonetheless, happy trails, BONINO-BONINO-BONINO. Also, R.I.P.I.P, H.B.K.
- Trevor Daley (D)
So everyone knew this was happening for like two days, but it’s official now. Daley to the Red Wings for three years. Like Bonino, the Pens weren’t going to give him as lucrative a deal as what Daley was going to find elsewhere. I’m also happy for Daley, though. The man went from barely sniffing ice time in Chicago to taking over a big role on a defensive corps that helped backbone the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups. Can’t blame the guy for wanting to get paid. He’ll be turning 34-years old in October, and this will likely be his last contract ever in the NHL. Happy trails, Dales (that’s apparently his nicknames according to the Gram).
- Ron Hainsey (D)
I’ll say it. This one doesn’t hurt. Sorry, but Hainsey wasn’t very good for the Penguins besides for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final when he decided to be Bobby Orr for 60 minutes.
Like Daley, this will likely be Hainsey’s last deal in the NHL, and the Penguins weren’t going to give him $3 million for two years. Deuces, Ronster.
So Where Does That Leave Us?
With LOTS of cap space.
Obviously, the void at third line center is the elephant in the room. The most likely scenario is GMJR goes after a target via a trade. Does that mean he’ll go after a guy like Matt Duchene? Probably not, but it’s kind of fun to think about. Duchene has two years left on his five year/$30 million contract that pays him an average annual value of $6 million. Although he’s good, it’d be a pricey cap hit for a third line center. And you also have to factor in that Justin Schultz and Brian Dumoulin are due for significant pay raises.
Also, with Chris Kunitz unlikely to return, the Pens could be a looking to add a winger. But we’ll wait and see how that one plays out first before I do some brain dead speculation.
And that’s it for today, folks. Hopefully you’re too drunk to even read this by now. Although, most of this will still likely be relevant in the morning when your tongues are stuck to the roofs of your mouths. Happy 4th of July, ya filthy animals!
UPDATE: Chris Kunitz is going to Tampa.
Just when I thought I could crack open a goddamn beer.
UPDATE: Justin Schultz re-signed for three years.
Also, I’m very happy about this tweet from the Penguins twitter account.
Nothing like condoning binge drinking to 1.4 million people on a family friendly twitter account. But here’s the spin zone – Schultz is chugging water. BURN.