After cooling off from yesterday's rant, I decided to come up with a wishlist of players I would like to see come to Pittsburgh. This is just meant to be something fun, since you all know you do the same thing with your own teams. Due to the number of guys that I'd like to see signed, I narrowed it down to 5. NOTE: These aren't in any particular order.
<strong>#5 John-Michael Liles</strong>
Liles will be one of the most sought after defensemen in this FA class and with good reason. He is coming off his 4th NHL season and in 313 career games he's gone for 44 goals and 115 assists. I'd gladly take a guy with 159 points in just over 300 games, but it's not just the offensive upside with Liles. He's a smart hockey player. Period.
He's only got 122 penalty minutes for his career. Fairly certain a guy named Sergei Gonchar has more than that in one less season with the Penguins. In fact just to be sure, I looked it up and crunched the numbers. In his three seasons with the Penguins, Gonchar has amassed 238 PIMs and still finds a way to put up the offensive numbers he does.
Figure this with Liles though. The kid hasn't hit his prime yet. Put him on this young Pens team and watch his flourish. Do we need more defensive types on the team, no question but Liles is a talent that can be taught how to play a more defensive style. If Therrien can get Gonchar to change his style, surely he can get a younger guy like Liles tobuy into the system.
<strong>#4 Brian Rolston</strong>
This may be my favorite player in the league that doesn't wear a Penguins jersey. How can you not like the guy? I'm a little biased because his second half resurgence this season was an integral part of my fantasy hockey championship, but still I love the way this guy plays the game.
Should Ryan Malone end up leaving and as I stated yesterday, it sure looks like that will happen, Rolston could be the guy to step in and fill the void. The guy is putting up nearly 70 points a season with the likes of Gaborik, Demitra and Bouchard. Don't even try to tell me he couldn't put up at least those same numbers with Crosby and Malkin feeding him all day long.
From what I can tell, the guy just goes out and plays the game. You never really hear his name in connection with players unhappy with management or the coaching staff. He just goes out and plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. He ended up with 31 goals this past season and has been around the league for a while. He would bring in a much needed veteran presence to the locker room, especially if Gary Roberts decides to go somewhere else. Last I heard on Roberts was that he would not be retiring and would be looking to play somewhere else next season.
If Pens management or someone with some pull in the Pens organization somehow sees this. GET ROLSTON! Aside from the offense he can bring, he brings all the intangibles that you want in a player. He's a team guy through and through. At one point this season Rolston was bouncing back and forth between the second and third line due to his struggles. Never heard a peep out of him. I was cursing the Wild for doing this because it was killing my fantasy team, but it all worked out in the end. Regardless of where he ends up, I plan on taking him in the draft again this year.
<strong>#3 Darcy Tucker</strong>
I might take some heat for this because some of you may not have seen the report that the Leafs are going to buy him out shortly. Should this turn into a reality and there's nothing telling me it won't, I want him in Pittsburgh.
This guy is like another Gary Roberts. Both play a gritty style of play that wins fans over. Roberts is an all-time warrior and I will respect the man forever even if he does play for another team next season.
Does he have some injury issues, sure but so did Roberts. Tucker will bring that grit and determination that this team needs. Not to mention he, like Robets, is capable of putting pucks in the back of the net. I'm not sure how my buddy Cheech will take the news of Tucker's exit from Toronto, but my guess is he will be indifferent or ecstatic.
Plus you can't tell me that Tucker wouldn't love to play against some of the teams that hate him the most in the Islanders and Flyers for nearly a quarter of a season with potential playoff matchups with the Flyers. (Sorry Isles fans, it's too easy to take shots like that. Quick coaching tip, you need to score goals to win games. Just in case you didn't know already.)
<strong>#2 Miroslav Satan</strong>
What makes this even more believable is that I've read rumors on various sites about the Pens being interested in this guy. I was talking with an Isles blogger about the prospect of Satan coming to Pittsburgh and his response was simply "You should."
Imagine him alongside Crosby on the top line? Is he as good as Hossa? Of course not. Is he a solid replacement? No question.
The guy hasn't had any major injury issues and typically plays about 80 games a season. He somehow found a way to put up 41 points on an Islanders team that scored about 50 goals all season. (Again, sorry Islanders fans. Your team makes it too easy some times. Start scoring and I'll retract this.) In his time in Buffalo he was normally around the 70 point mark, which I'd take in a heartbeat.
The guy can skate and keep up with Crosby and Dupuis. The only downside is that he's not exactly got the defensive mindset. As with the Liles comments above, I think Therrien can get Satan to buy into a defensive system that allows him to showcase his talents in the offensive end. Even if he doesn't play with Crosby, put him with Malkin. See if I care. It's not like you're demoting the guy by having him play with Geno over Sid.
I would imagine there will be some pretty decent interest in Satan, but after having played against the Pens for 20 some games over the past three seasons I'm sure he knows just how good this team can be. Plus, how many years does he have left in him to get that elusive Stanley Cup ring. Come to Pittsburgh Satan, you know you want to.
<strong>#1 Markus Naslund</strong>
Ahh the sentimental pick of the lot. For those of you who may not recall, Markus Naslund was once property of the Pittsburgh Penguins way back in early 90's. In fact we even drafted him in 1991 with the 16th overall pick.
This could be a great pickup should Ray Shero and Co. get it done. He once put up over 100 points in a season and has also hit 90. By no means would I expect him to hit those numbers again, but there's no reason he shouldn't be able to put up 60-70.
Notice how there's basically a common theme here with these picks? Veteran leadership (excluding Liles). This is one area that we're going to need help with if Roberts leaves. Sure these guys a little bit older, but look at the rest of the team already. Some can't even grow hair on their chins yet and we already made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Not exactly a bad thing right?
His coming back to Pittsburgh could end up as the greatest script ever written. Picture it. After being traded at the deadline in '96, Naslund returns to the team he broke into the league with and wins the Stanley Cup.
Hello? Hollywood? Yeah, I've got your next summer blockbuster movie idea.
Already calling dibs on that, so don't go getting any ideas here.
I'd also like to take a second here at the end to congratulate Barry "Mullet Man" Melrose for getting the coaching job in Tampa Bay. I know I'm going to miss his insightful analysis of all things hockey. Michael Wilbon on ESPN's Pardon The Interruption actually said Melrose may be the best analyst in any sport. I don't know if I would go that far, but he's definitely at or near the top of the hockey world. I never really understood why he hadn't gotten a coaching job after being let go by the Kings. Either way, after watching as much hockey as he has over the past 13 years, he should have a firm grip on how to win in this league.
Welcome back Barry. We missed you.