The Doldrums of Summer Speculation


The Stanley Cup Finals are still going on, but for 28 of the NHL’s 30 teams, these are the doldrums of summer.  While it may seem like there are a lot of things going on, most of the current news for the non-finals teams is speculation.  Sure, there are head coaches being fired then hired, but seeing the Rangers and Canucks basically swap coaches in Alain Vigneault and John Tortorella (if he accepts) is about as exciting as licking wet paint.  This is why people start searching for things to talk about that aren’t really things at all.  This is where speculation begins and common sense ends.

Focusing on the Penguins, there has been much that has been opined upon so far this off season.  Once all of the blame was allotted after the Pens were ousted from the playoffs, the press and fans alike turned their attention to the “what ifs” and the “possibly maybes” that slow news days can bring.  Take for example Evgeni Malkin.

  • Would he sign?  
  • Can the Pens afford him?  
  • How much will he cost the team?

Claims that he would be traded or that he was considering playing in the KHL made their rounds across newspapers and the internet.  Once reality came, and the 8 year, $76 million contract was announced ($9.5 million a year cap wise), most of that speculation sure looked foolish.  It was, however, fun to watch.

Marc-Andre Fleury was also a fun target to speculate about.

  • Would the Pens buy out his contract?  
  • Could they trade him?  
  • Would fans run him out of town on a rail?  

In the end, the Pens came out in support of Fleury, going so far as to call him their No. 1 goaltender.  I discussed this HERE.

Coach Dan Bylsma had rumors swirling around him, too.

  • Will Mario Lemieux fire him?  
  • Does Ray Shero still stand behind him?  
  • Will the Rangers snap him up once he is fired?  

What came to pass was a contract extension.  *yawn*

Then there is Letang, who is always a lightening rod for speculators.

  • What will he ask Shero for contract wise?  
  • Will the Pens pay it?  
  • Can the team even afford him?  
  • Can they trade him for the 1st overall pick this year?  

This situation is still ongoing and playing guessing games now isn’t making anything more clear.

Finally, over the last couple days, there has been speculation about James Neal.  Would he need to be traded so that Malkin/Letang/Dupuis/Cooke/Anybody can fit under the salary cap?  Reporters in Ottawa sure seem to think so.  This thought sent the internet into a tizzy, so much so that frank denials were being posted by members of the local press.  Here’s Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review quashing the rumors:

Others knew this story didn’t have much to it.

Well, since we’re stuck in this space between our exit from the playoffs and the NHL Draft, let’s just enjoy some speculation, shall we?


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