Tag Archives: Brian Dumoulin

Odd Men Out

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a log-jam on defense. As of July 26, just over two months until the 2017-2018 season begins, the Penguins currently have 9 defensemen that could possibly make the roster come October. This begs the question, which defensemen will be left off the team and which will be the odd men out?

The Keepers

To me, there are four defensemen that are absolute locks to be here and playing at the start of the season; Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz, and Ian Cole. Leaving Olli Maatta off this list is somewhat controversial sure but we’ll get to him later. Besides Maatta, this leaves Frank Corrado, Matt Hunwick, Chad Ruhwedel, and Derrick Pouliot all fighting for the remaining three spots.

The Unlikely

It would seem as though that the struggling Corrado and journeyman Chad Ruhwedel are destined to start in the AHL next season. Despite General Manager Jim Rutherford‘s high praise for Ruhwedel at the beginning of free agency, it seems as though the signing of Matt Hunwick has made him more of a depth defensemen than a top 6 guy. Hunwick is known to struggle, though, and has been driving Toronto fans nuts for years; so if he does start to flounder, or the inevitable injury to a defensemen happens, expect Ruhwedel to be the first guy up. Corrado on the other hand…well, who really knows. It seems as if he’s been forgotten over the past few months as free agency continues. Unless he stuns the coaching staff and GM in the preseason, Corrado will probably be heading to Wilkes-Barre for a majority of the season.

Three Men, Two Spots

This leaves us with Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot and Matt Hunwick, all fighting for the two spots that remain. As I’ve said about Hunwick, I do expect to see him on opening night, that may be in the press box or on the ice, but I just think that Rutherford would not give a three-year deal with an AAV of $2.25 million to someone just to be banished to the minors. Now, if Olli Maatta is still a Penguin by October, then there is absolutely no doubt that he will be starting. Maatta’s game went from amazing to disastrous after a slew of injuries stunted his development. Maatta’s mistakes stand out due to his lack of speed. However, when he’s not getting burned, he is still an outstanding defensemen. Maatta really has transformed his game to become a more complete NHL defensemen since his rookie season, but his speed is still something that plagues him. I personally do not want the Penguins to trade Olli Maatta. He is a great defensemen with a bright future ahead of him. That being said, when looking at the void at third line center and the excess that the Pens have on D…if Rutherford wanted to make a splash and trade for a big name, (which he does not have to), Maatta would almost have to be going the other way.  Finally there is the never-ending conundrum that is Derrick Pouliot. The Pen’s best defensive prospect has struggled ever since he stunned Pittsburgh by scoring his first goal on his first shot. Reported attitude problems and losing the ability to quickly move the puck seemingly overnight have made Pouliot spend a majority of his career in the AHL, despite his overwhelming potential. However, in an interview with The Trib, Rutherford said, “Pouliot finished the season real strong.  We feel he’s going to come in and play,” However, if the Pens were to keep Maatta, then the top 6 would include Letang, Schultz, Dumoulin, Maatta, Cole, and Hunwick. I don’t see where Pouliot fits in. I think the kid deserves a shot and also think that he is probably better than Matt Hunwick is, but again Hunwick’s contract makes it hard for me to think that he’ll be sitting many games. To be quite frank, I do not know what the Pens will do with Pouliot if this same roster is intact. Maybe he’s traded, maybe he spends time at practice and in the press box, maybe he takes Hunwick’s spot, or maybe he’s forced to spend yet another season in Wilkes-Barre.

Only time can tell what will happen to the Penguins Defense come October. No matter what does happen, a healthy Kris Letang makes the Pens defense one to reckon with next year.

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Pens Sign Brian Dumoulin to Six Year Extension

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed standout defensemen Brian Dumoulin to a brand new 6 year contract. The deal comes just a few weeks before the arbitration meeting that would have taken place; meaning that the Penguins avoid arbitration and have locked up Dumo long term.

What the Deal Is

The 6 year deal carries an average cap hit of 4.1 million dollars and is reportedly a flat level deal. This means that the cap hit remains $4.1 million for each year of the deal, never going up or down. This contract also makes Dumo the 3rd highest paid Penguins defensemen on roster, falling behind superstar Kris Letang and other new signee Justin Schultz.

What the Deal Means

With any new contract comes extended meaning beyond just simply signing the player. The $24.6 million deal leaves the Penguins with 6.28 million dollars left in cap space for the upcoming season according to CapFriendly. This means that the Penguins only have that much room to work with to acquire a third line center and sign the other RFA, Conor Sheary.

There has been little to no action on the Sheary front, however, Post Gazette writer, Jason Mackey, reported that Sheary and Dumoulin’s agent, Lewis Gross, is planning on getting a deal done before Sheary’s arbitration date. No rumors or even rumblings have been discussed as to what the 25 year old Left Winger’s contract could look like. However, when taking a look at his stats, one could make an argument for a somewhat lucrative deal, but I don’t see him getting much more than $3 million. Sheary’s 63 points in 103 NHL games is certainly nothing to turn a nose to. However, this is only over two NHL seasons, which usually is not enough for GMs to give long term deals. I expect a bridge contract to be offered for Sheary, somewhere in the area of 2-3 years with an AAV of $3 million would be absolutely perfect. On top of this, given his lackluster playoffs last year, the cap hit could fall even farther below value.

The Penguins should then still have enough room to sign/acquire a decent enough third line center that would fall anywhere between the $2-4 million range depending on what got sent back *cough cough Tyler Bozak.*

The deal also shows just how important defense is in today’s NHL. The Penguins now currently have 7 NHL defensemen signed for a total of 25.9 million dollars, with $20.93 million locked up in what can be the assumed Top 4 (Letang, Schultz, Dumoulin, Maatta.)

Is Brian Dumoulin really worth 4.1 million dollars a year? Probably not, however, is a Left Handed Defensemen worth that in today’s NHL? You bet. When looking at other deals around the league, the Dumoulin deal is actually more of a steal.

What Penguins Would Have Fun Days With Cup?

It’s been 25 days since the Penguins won the Stanley Cup (again) followed by the victory parade and I am riding just as high as I hope many Pens fans still are. I was in attendance at the 2016 parade and had the time of my life for numerous reasons. While I wasn’t able to make it to this years 2017 parade, having some beers later and watching it on tv in celebration  made me feel like I was there once again at the party.

Winning 2 cups in a row, especially in the Salary Cap era, is very difficult to do. So I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of this 1 (again) much like many of the players did during the parade as you probably have seen by now. It got me to thinking, I wonder what some of the players (particularly the younger guys) are doing with their day with the cup?

Certainly everyone is gonna have fun with it, but who would I wanna be hanging with or as their goal song dictates “party hard” with come there day with the Cup?

I’m going to get this outta the way right now, Phil Kessel is always an automatic choice. There’s no need to explain, I love Phil Kessel, you love Phil Kessel, we all love him, we know the folklore about him. This is definitely obvious. It’s like talking about the greatest Yankees of all team, don’t even need to mention Babe Ruth because we all know he’s one of the greatest players of all time, same ruling goes for Kessel.

Jake Guentzel

Unlike many of his teammates, Guentzel was only on the latter of the back to back championships. For this being his 1st time meeting new best friend Stanley, Guentzel looked thrilled the entire time at the parade. He was seen fist pumping and cheering all the way down the route. My favorite part was him talking about what he’s doing with the cup:

“IM GOING BACK TO MINNESOTAAAAAA”. Jake Guentzel was literally a kid in a candy shop, he’s got a shiny new silver toy to play with this summer. Seeing Guentzel with that joy on his face during the whole parade makes me think that won’t stop at all, for me that’s a front row seat worth the price of admission.

Brian Dumoulin

Last year in 2016 we were blessed with this gem:

Than now in 2017 it might have been even better:

Biting open the can with your teeth is such a savage move I can’t help but be a fan of it. I for sure want to be around for what Dumo will do next.

Sidney Crosby:

As if 3 Stanley Cups and 2 Conn Smythe’s and a team parade wasn’t enough already for Sid, he now gets to be treated like a super hero. His hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia Canada loves their home grown kid so much that Crosby gets his own parde in town. Imagine that, a parade for just you, not any teammates, just yourself. I would love to be apart of that and be on 1 of the floats, definitely would be a cool thing to do.

I also think Sid would let loose a little in a place where you can see him behind the scenes. He’s always very calculated and reserved when it comes to doing interviews, it would be fun seeing the other fun side of Crosby.

Olli Maatta

Need I say more?

Carl Hagelin

“Swagelin” as some call him scored the last goal of the Cup Final, a thrilling feeling putting the last nail in your opponents coffin. He also had a rough year because of injury and under production of goal scoring that we normally see from the Swede. In other words, Hagelin could use the 2nd championship to blow off some steam.

He got right to it by joining Crosby at the NHL Awards over in Vegas. Surely Hagelin ripped up the town while he was there as he wasn’t up for any awards, just there hanging with Stanley and Sid in support of his teammate. I’ll hit the black jack tables with Hagelin anytime.

Ron Hainsey

Trade deadline acquisition Ron Hainsey always struck me as kind of similar to that old dad from the movie Project X, or maybe the fun neighbor you might be aware of. He’s the loving, responsible, caring father that he should be to his wife and kids. Then, one night, the young guys a few houses down decide to throw a real awesome party, Hainsey stops by to ask to keep the noise down, next thing you know he’s invited in and getting wild with everyone else, maybe doing some shots or a quick drinking game, having a great time and being one of the last to leave.

That’s how I imagine Hainsey felt as he wasted away his time in Carolina struggling and never making the playoffs (the nice dad who’s kinda boring). Next he’s on the Penguins in the playoffs, having fun, being productive, scoring goals in the Stanley Cup (the crazy dad) slicing through defenders and finally winning that Stanley Cup! Hainsey than dressed up as a catcher and caught the 1st pitch thrown by Sidney Crosby at the Pirates game the next day. It’s been some ride for Hainsey, he can finally relax.

Evgeni Malkin

This really just comes down to the fact that Malkin has always been my favorite player. He’s also the all time playoff points leader in Russia. The reception he probably gets when he brings the Cup back to his town of Magnitogorsk is probably 1 similar to when Steph Curry goes back to Charlotte.

Justin Schultz

I just want to recreate a bunch of the memes that have now went viral of Schutlz walking and chugging. There’s no question he, Maatta, Conor Sheary and Guentzel were the ones really getting after it at the parade, if you know what I mean.

Really you could make a case for any Penguins player on this roster. Back to back, sounds great to say. Raise a glass, a cold one, or the finest bottle of choice for your 2017 Stanley Cup Champs!

 

 

Offseason Player Grades: Brian Dumoulin

Statistics (Regular Season)

70 GP , 1 G, 14 A, 15 PTS, +/- Even, 14 PIM

Statistics (Playoffs)

25 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, +9 +/-, 6 PIM

Player Grade: (A)

Brian Dumoulin stepped into a big role this season when his defensive partner, Kris Letang, underwent season ending surgery. Dumo earns an A in my book because of the way he stepped into a top defensive role, being charged with shutting down the other team’s top offense lines, especially during the playoffs.

Review

Dumoulin has proven to be a shutdown guy here in Pittsburgh. I don’t think anyone expects him to put up more than a handful of points per season. (Although I do see offensive talent in his game) Looking into some analytic stats on Dumo, if you break his numbers down, they’re in the top half of defensemen in the league. He quietly gets the job done each and every night, he’s not flashy, doesn’t have a cannon of a shot, or the top-level speed and skating, but at the end of the day he does what you want a top pairing, shutdown defenseman to do.

Preview

Dumoulin is a RFA this summer. I hope to see him sign a long-term deal to keep him in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future. Next season, I fully expect him and Letang to be one of the NHL’s top pairs in the league. Again, I don’t expect him to put up a lot of points, but he provides that stable partner for Letang to be Letang.

Conclusion

Brian Dumoulin may be one of the most underrated defensemen in the league, but the numbers are there to prove that he is being over looked. Without a player of his caliber I don’t think the Pens repeat this year.

Unsung Heroes

Overtime, Game 7; these are the games as hockey fans we love. Thursday night, the Penguins defeated the Senators 3-2 in double overtime to clinch their bid to the Stanley Cup Finals vs the Nashville Predators. The game winning goal coming from 37-year-old Chris Kunitz, which was his second goal of the night. This entire playoff, and regular season has been filled with unsung heroes. Yes, we have the three-headed monster in Malkin, Crosby, and Kessel leading the way in playoff points. But there are a few guys pulling some of their own weight. Names that stand out are Jake Guentzel, Chris Kunitz, Bryan Rust, Olli Maatta, and Brian Dumoulin.

 

Jake Guentzel- 2016-17 Regular Season– 40 GP | 16 G | 17 A       2016-17 Playoffs– 19 GP | 9 G | 7 A

What an amazing rookie campaign Jake has put together. Those who watched Jake play in WBS before being called up knew the type of impact he could have in the NHL, and what an impact he has made. Some may ask why he made this list of surprise players these playoffs, but I don’t think anyone expected a player with 40 NHL games to be in the top 5 of playoff scoring. Not to mention 3 GWG this postseason.

Image result for jake guentzel playoffs

Chris Kunitz- 2016-17 Regular Season- 71 GP | 9 G | 20 A |         2016-17 Playoffs- 14 GP| 2 G| 3 A |     

Chris Kunitz, what a guy. This is a player that Penguins fans have wanted to be dealt out of town for the last three years at least, and I am guilty of criticizing him as well. But with Kuntiz you know what type of player you are going to get. He’s the type of guy to battle in front of the net, finish his checks, and hey, even score goals when reunited with Crosby. Kuntiz has scored the most important goal of these playoffs so far (2OT ECF) so how could he not be a hero?

Image result for chris kunitz goal

Bryan Rust- 2016-17 Regular Season- 40 GP | 12 G | 4 A |            2016-17 Playoffs- 17 GP | 6 A | 1 A |

Rust is a player that really emerged last season when the Pens were faced with injuries and he made a similar impact that Guentzel is making this year. Rust is another guy that will finish his hit and grind in front of the net, but also comes up with some very timely goals. This post season, Rust has 2 GWG those goals being Game 5 vs CBJ, and game 7 vs Washington. Rust plays big in big games, so keep an eye out for him the Stanley Cup Finals.

Image result for bryan rust playoffs

Olli Maatta2016-17 Regular Season- 55 GP| 1 G | 6 A |              2016-17 Playoffs19 GP | 2 G | 5 A |

Maatta has been criticized time and time again, and granted he has not been the player the Penguins expected, he has held his own. Some unfortunate injuries have slowed Maatta’s growth, but minor things such as foot speed seem to be an issue for him. To Maatta’s credit he has played well this season, especially vs the Sens. Scoring two goals in as many games, and one being a GWG in the 7-0 victory, Maatta seems to be finding his way as of late.

 Image result for olli maatta 2017

Honorable Mention: Brian Dumoulin- Dumo gets my honorable mention for this list. Next to Ian Cole, he may be the best defensive defenseman the Pens have. Logging 20+ minutes in almost every playoff game, he is faced with the task of shutting down teams’ top offensive lines. He is a valuable player to this Pens roster that often goes under the radar.

Image result for brian dumoulin playoff

This Penguins team is filled with superstars as we all know, but there are a ton of depth/role players that are just as important as Crosby or Malkin are. Role players play a key part in winning teams, and the Penguins have built their team using high end role guys. They played a huge part in the 2016 Stanley Cup Run, and will again be a key factor in the 2017 Stanley Cup run.

Player Safety Certainly An Issue

Sidney Crosby is on fire. The haters are running out of ideas so they’ve recycled the statement that Crosby is protected by the league. I already debunked that with video evidence on this site earlier this season, but Sid isn’t the only one the NHL is failing this year.

Boarding in my opinion has become the penaltie du jour among hitters who don’t want to get dinged for a straight head shot. The idea is to hit them in the back or waist and let the dasher do the rest.  The latest major example happens to be on the alleged bubble boy himself, Sidney Crosby.

In Tampa Bay last week defenceman Luke Witkowski was a little overzealous on our captain, giving him a helpful shove head first into the advertisements. No call came from Player Safety and no   penalty was given at ice level.

Video: SPORTSNETCANADA

For those about to accuse me of begging for a suspension every time Sid gets touched, keep calm and go to a Capitals blog. I’m not surprised or even upset there was no look by Player Safety. What concerns me most is the acceptability of plays like this.

This is not on the on ice officials either. In most cases at ice level the  force and impact of the push in the moment aren’t more than a minor. There’s no thought of intent, and it’s just a hockey play. Players just don’t know any better.

But like head shots, the NHL needs to step in and say enough is enough. It’s getting to be too much. With their own penal system they can send the message that just because this is a minor penalty, it can have major repercussions (i.e. a  broken neck and back like happened in the AHL and the KHL). The decision to push in the first place is the problem, not the actual push.

This has nothing to do with Sidney Crosby. There were two more major boarding incidents last night, including Brian Dumoulin getting rammed. People have spent their day crying over a Kris Letang phantoms elbow head shot and don’t even bat an eye about that boarding penalty to a defenceless player.

The league doesn’t protect Sidney Crosby personally and they’ve proven that. But what happens to Crosby and other superstars is a product of the culture the League has promoted, and for some reason the fans have accepted it.

 

Recap: Islanders 5, Penguins 3

The score says a lot. It just wasn’t the Penguins’ game Wednesday night from puck drop to their furious third period comeback.

This game featured the same Penguins team I’ve come to see a lot this year: an inconsistent one.

After a late first period goal by the Islanders and two more in possibly the worst second period this team has played this year, the Penguins capatlized on Thomas Greiss’ third period struggles and tied the game at three. With 26 seconds left, Anders Lee tipped a shot home standing right infront of Matt Murray for the game winning goal. Nikolai Kulemin added the empty net dagger.

Three Impressions:

  • Matt Murray was a bit off. He made the incredible save on John Tavares and a couple other scrambling saves but let in soft goals including the third goal. It wasn’t his fault that Justin Schultz kicked it towards Murray who unconsciously knocked it in…but Murray gave up a soft rebound, albeit something he hasn’t done much. Murray was as up and down as this Penguins team was.
  • Sidney Crosby is the most dominant player in the NHL right now and it’s not even close. His play to drive the tying Evgeni Malkin goal was something that not many can do. It was an effort and skill defensive play from his knees and he somehow found defenseman Brian Dumoulin who gave it to Geno for the goal. There is no one that I’d take over Sid right now. He’s not even the highest paid player in the NHL currently.
  • Poor John Tavares. This man is a top five NHL talent playing on a horrible team. You could see it in his body language that he’s frustrated. At times, he’s called himself out even though he’s got 17 points in 22 games. What is the captain supposed to do? Pin blame on the rest of his teammates? No, he’ll say the right things about himself needing to “step up” to an even more elite level. Tavares is going to find himself a nice free agent contract waiting for him in two years.

Next Game: Thursday vs. Detroit