Whereas commenting on administration’s acknowledged want to play “lengthy pants” hockey a few months in the past, I urged tongue-in-cheek that we attempt to get proper wing Ryan Reaves again from Vegas. (I additionally wrote that such a transfer would absolutely illicit a bitter-beer face from coach Mike Sullivan.)
Possibly my concept wasn’t as far-fetched as I believed. The large man was a wholesome scratch for the Golden Knights’ last three playoff video games towards Montreal. Nor did he take pleasure in a banner season out west (a measly aim and 5 factors in 37 video games). He has one season left on a deal that pays him $1.75 million.
Might Reaves presumably be packaged together with a sure goalie who shall go anonymous (Marc-Andre Fleury) in a commerce for, say, Jason Zucker and Tristan Jarry?
Along with filling the Pens’ acknowledged want so as to add a veteran goalie, re-acquiring Reaves would maintain our enforcement points in a single fell swoop. Though it’s uncertain the Winnipeg native would supply a lot in the way in which of offense at this stage of his profession, there isn’t a extra forceful, feared and intimidating presence in all of hockey.
Assuming the Pens don’t re-sign Zach Aston-Reese, the 225-pound hammer might present a bristling bookend (an astounding 760 hits over the previous three seasons) on an ultra-physical fourth line with Brandon Tanev.
Such a deal would take away a salary-cap albatross in Zucker and open up roughly $250 thousand in cap area for the black and gold.
In fact, there’s the not-so-small matter of how a lot he would play underneath the speed-besotted Sullivan, who meted out ice time to “Reavo” with tweezers throughout his all-too-brief keep within the Metal Metropolis. At 34 years of age, you surprise how a lot he has left within the tank. Too, it doesn’t seem that both Fleury or Reaves are particularly anxious to depart Vegas.
Maybe a greater choice could be proper wing Wayne Simmonds, presently Maple Leaf property however quickly to be a free agent. Simmonds isn’t fairly in Reaves class as a fighter, however he’s darn shut. The Pens had been truly kicking the tires on the Scarborough, Ontario, native on the 2020 commerce deadline, however opted for Patrick Marleau as an alternative.
The drawbacks? Simmonds is harm inclined and doubtless an previous 32. He’s a shadow of the participant he as soon as was when he racked up back-to-back seasons of 30-plus objectives for Ron Hextall’s Flyers from 2015-17. And even in his hey-day, he was by no means an particularly good skater or 5-on-5 participant. However he’s powerful as nails, an amazing chief (former Messier Award winner) and he might nonetheless be an element on the ability play as a handsy, snarling net-front presence.
Better of all, he’d probably come low cost.
Okay, we’ve checked out forwards. What about protection?
Assuming we gained’t be capable to re-sign Cody Ceci, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen may very well be a main goal. He’s a coveted right-hand shot who hits like a freight practice, and he’s received puck abilities as well (4 40-plus level seasons). The rampaging 6’4” 218-pounder needs out of Buffalo within the worst method. And at 26 years of age, he ought to be getting into his prime.
Ristolainen’s a bit dear…$5.4 million signed by the approaching season. Maybe the Sabres may very well be induced to chunk on Marcus Pettersson ($4.083 million/AAV) and retain a few of the huge Finn’s wage.
Such a commerce would additionally open up a spot on the left aspect for rising prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
If not? Former Pens Ian Cole, Erik Gudbranson and Jamie Oleksiak are pending UFAs. Cole and Sullivan weren’t precisely bosom buddies throughout Ian’s go ‘spherical within the ‘Burgh, however he was nonetheless an integral cog on our back-to-back champions and he can play both aspect. He and Gudbranson (significantly the latter) might most likely be signed at a positive charge.
Oleksiak will probably command a big elevate over the modest $2.1 million he earned on his final contract, signed when he was a member of the Pens.
Just a few “lengthy pants” choices to think about.
*Make sure you take a look at Rick Bukers books,
accessible at TriumphBooks.com,