2016 Stanley Cup Champions
I will start with this first to give some background of what I'm about to write.
Josh Yohe's "Lovejoy, Cullen, Schultz could all leave as champs"
If you haven't subscribed to dkpittsburghsports.com...then I honestly have no clue what you're doing.
I'm going to try to keep the following sections short, but I do tend to ramble. Here we go, nonetheless.
The quotes that "Benny Quotes" provided in the article above sound like a man who is leaving, but also that of a man who would do anything to stay in Pittsburgh.
Lovejoy played admirably in the final stretch of the regular season and all throughout the playoffs. I will admit that the trade that sent my personal favorite Penguin, Simon Despres, to Anaheim for Lovejoy riled me up. Not because I didn't like Lovejoy, but because I didn't see the sense in the trade.
I do now.
Also, I was quite hard on Lovejoy at the beginning of the season, in particular the game I saw live in Newark against the New Jersey Devils where they were absolutely embarrassed, 4-0. He, from that point on, turned his game around.
Again, I have to apologize.
In a perfect world, I think Lovejoy resigns a two-year deal at roughly the same cap hit ($1.1 million). He is deserving of a raise and being a right-handed defenseman, his value will skyrocket.
My Verdict: Sadly, I don't see him sticking around, however, I'm hoping like hell he does.
I don't think you can argue with that gap-toothed smile of Justin Schultz's that he's having a blast in Pittsburgh. The Penguins were a team on his radar when he initially signed to play in the NHL and he's made no bones about it how much he's enjoyed his time and wants to stick around.
I think he is the most important free agent on this team and needs to be resigned. Of course, boasting a $3.9 million cap hit that would have to be qualified is going to make him sticking around a much tougher task.
Do you let Schultz hit the free agent market and restructure a deal? May be the best way to go about it. How much interest will he garner? I'm going to safely say a ton.
My verdict: I think he stays. It's honestly a fifty/fifty scenario, in my opinion, and I believe that a Fleury trade (which I don't agree with) would be the biggest factor in if he sticks around. I'm hoping the Penguins find a way.
Let's leave it at that.
As much as I love Cullen and what he brought to the team, his durability and mentorship to everyone on that roster, what better way is there to go out?
I have no doubt that he could play another season, but after a helluva run with a late signing, fans complaining about adding an "old man" to the roster and then proving everyone wrong by playing in all 106 games the Penguins were in and hoisting the Stanley Cup for the second time in his career, there's no better way to call it a career.
My verdict: Enjoy retirement, Mr. Cullen. You deserved it and were such a valuable piece to this Penguins team. You left it all out on the ice and you can ride out as a champion.
Apparently, Bennett will be brought back for one more year. At a cheap cap hit of under a million, again we say, just like we did last season, "why not?"
The injury riddled, confidence raddled winger has--or should I say had--a great upside. With several shoulder injuries, some of the hardest to truly recover from, you have to wonder what Bennett will bring to this team, if anything?
Even if fully healthy, I don't know how much he'll crack the lineup, but depth is never a bad thing to have.
My verdict: Give him one more chance. As much as he loves to throw hits, he should probably change his game up so he doesn't have to do so...or maybe just hit with the other shoulder. Hoping for the best for Sunshine.
In an upcoming piece, I'll talk about some free agent targets the Penguins should at least take a glance at, even if they can't afford them. (And no, I'm not going to write about Steven Stamkos. Realistic possibilities, people, c'mon!)