Sunday, June 8, 2008

Former Pens in the NHL 2007-08

One of the features we had at this blog’s infancy last summer was a re-cap of those ex-Pens who laced ‘em up for another NHL team in the season before. It was well received, so we did it again.

Former Pittsburgh Penguins who played in the NHL in 2007-08

Anaheim Ducks

Atlanta Thashers

Mark Recchi (19 games, 2 goals 6 assists with Pittsburgh, 53 gp, 12 goals, 28 assists for 40 points with Atlanta)
--After dropping Sidney Crosby’s anchor on the top line, Mark Recchi was claimed on re-entry waivers by the Thrashers. Recchi got the chance to play with some good players and made the most of it, picking his production up. Recchi is now a free agent, and at 40 doesn’t have much gas left in the tank. We get the feeling he could have somewhat a productive season (like 15-20 goals and 35-40 assists) in the right situation…The question is, will an NHL team be willing to give him that.

Chris Thorburn (73 games, 5 goals, 13 assists, 92 PIMs)
--Thorburn is a scrappy lower line winger. Players like him are a dime-a-dozen but do fill important roles on every NHL roster. The Pens received a 3rd round pick (defenseman Robert Bortuzzo) from Atlanta at last year’s draft and the Thrashers got a fairly solid feisty NHL’er. Thorburn is a RFA so it’ll be interesting to see if Atlanta wants to qualify him this summer or let him go find another place to play.

Colby Armstrong (54 games 9 goals, 15 assists with Pittsburgh, 18 gp, 4g 7a with ATL)
--Much has been written about the trade sending Army to Atlanta. He played well with the Thrashers and figures to be an important part of their team in the years to come. Armstrong is under contract next year ($1.2 million) and is at a career cross-roads. Should he play well and produce points he’s likely to get a pretty lucrative long-term deal. If he fails to establish himself, he might bounce from organization to organization in the years to come.

Erik Christensen (49 games, 9 goals, 11 assists with Pittsburgh, 10gp 2g 2a with ATL)
--Crusher is one of the best shootout specialists in the NHL. He’s got arguably one of the best wrist shots in the whole league. But he hasn’t established himself either yet at the NHL level. A knee injury after the trade sidelined him and again kept him from becoming a top 6 center. EC is under contract for the relatively reasonable rate of $750k next season and surely Atlanta is hoping for a breakout performance.

Joel Kwiatkowski (18 games, 0 goals, 5 assists)
--Kiwi played one memorable game with Pittsburgh [ed. Note: not that memorable] in 2006-07 and then was on the team’s playoff taxi squad in case of injuries. Kwiatkowski remains a good puck moving defenseman that just can’t stick in the NHL permanently. But he remains a valuable NHL/AHL swing player and is a UFA for any team to pickup this summer.

Johan Hedberg (36 games, 14-15-3 record, 3.46 GAA, .892 save %, 1 shutout)
--Hedberg will always remain a beloved figure in Penguins fans eyes for his performance in 2001. He got stuck in a pretty brutal situation in front of Atlanta this year and his numbers tell that tale. Most observers agree that he was better than those numbers indicate; he played a lot when starter Kari Lehtonen missed time with injury. Hedberg is now a UFA and Atlanta has promising young netminder Ondrej Pavelec knocking on the door for an NHL job soon so it’s likely “The Moose” will have to find a backup job somewhere else.

Boston Bruins
“Anyone But” Glen Murray (63 games, 17 goals, 13 assists)
--Murray keeps chugging along in the NHL, surpassing the 1000 career games played milestone this past season. Boston is still on the hook for $4.15 million in 08-09 so it’s likely he’ll be in this recap for one more season.

Andrew Ference (59gp, 1g, 14a, 1 lost fight to Sidney Crosby)
--Ference is the prototypical post-lockout defenseman; small, mobile and a decent puck mover. He’s not a name-sake player, but a good one nonetheless. As mentioned above, Ference’s 07-08 season (and possibly career) might be best remembered for the footnote of being on the receiving end of Crosby’s first NHL fight.

Buffalo Sabres
Jocelyn Thibault (12 games, 3-4-2 record, 3.31 GAA, .869 save %)
--A stint in Pittsburgh helped revive Thibault’s career, but his performance in mop up duty with Buffalo wasn’t the best. Thibault’s a UFA again and has to see what the market looks like for him.

Carolina Hurricanes
--no former Pens

Calgary Flames
Wayne Primeau (43 games, 3 goals, 7 assists)

--Primeau keeps filling the important niche of being an energy lower line forward. He also has now 90 career NHL playoff games (Mario Lemieux, by comparison had 107). No real meaning behind that stat, just something we found interesting and surprising.

Chicago Blackhawks
Robert Lang (76 games, 21 goals, 33 assists)

--This marks Lang’s eight straight season of at least 50 points. He’s done this with now four different teams. Lang is not an inspiring player, nor a particularly dynamic one. But the numbers can’t be wrong; he’s been good at staying healthy and putting up about 20 goals and 30-35 assists for a long time now.

Patrick Lalime (32 games, 16-12-2, 2.82 GAA, .897 save %, 1 shutout)
--Lalime will forever be remembered for his blistering rookie start, holding out and subsequent trade and falling off the map. But he’s still around and still playing relatively well. He’s now 34 years old and set to be an unrestricted free agent. His reputation proceeds him but it seems he’s played well enough to be offered an NHL job somewhere out there.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Dick Tarnstrom (48 games played, 3 goals, 11 assists between Edmonton and CBS)

--The last player to lead the Penguins in scoring before Crosby and Evgeni Malkin found a new home and a little new lift in Columbus. Tarnstrom remains one of just eight skaters (out of 34 that Pittsburgh used) still in the NHL from that dreadful, dreadful 2003-04 season.

Colorado Avalanche
--no ex-Pens

Dallas Stars

Stu Barnes (79 games played, 12 goals, 11 assists)
--Stu Barnes remains another ex-Pen that many still hold in high regard. He’s not tall, not particularly skilled but made an honest career out of hard work and being in the right place at the right time. Barnes has been great for Dallas’ system and played well. But he’s 37 years old now and it’s unsure if this UFA to be will find a job playing in the NHL next season. If this is the end of the line for him, it’s a career of 1136 regular season games and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Sergei Zubov (46 games, 4 goals, 31 assists)
--Sergei Zubov has now been in Dallas for 11 years. Seems like a life time ago when he spent his one season in Pittsburgh as an offensive defenseman that’s style didn’t mesh well with Lemieux. Now, even at age 37, Zubov is still one of the best defensemen in the league and has one of the finest two-way games. His transformation (as well as what could have been) never ceases to amaze us.

Toby Petersen (8 games, 0 goals, 3 assists)
--We’ve talked about Petersen before. He’s a little diabetic guy that can’t stick in the NHL but can take a decent shift or two.

Detroit Red Wings
Mikael Samuelsson (73 games, 11 goals, 29 assists) (5g, 8a in 22 playoff games)
--Samuelsson was acquired in the blatant Alexei Kovalev salary dump-off at the trade deadline in 2003. He played 22 career games with the Pens and had 2 goals and 0 assists. The Pens let him slide away and I thought he wouldn’t stick around in North America much longer. Samuelsson went to Florida for 2003-04 and back to Europe to play during the lockout. That time was good for him, as for some reason Detroit offered him a contract and in 2005-06 Samuelsson was a 20 goal scorer in the NHL and has been an important 3rd line player for the Red Wings. Credit them for transforming his game, or at least recognizing the change that he made.

Edmonton Oilers
--no ex-Pens

Florida Panthers
Noah Welch (4 games played, 0 goals, 0 assists)
--The trade bait dangled for Gary Roberts suffered another frustrating season. Welch, with all his talent, size and potential just hasn’t been able to establish himself at the NHL level. Welch didn’t appear in any AHL games this season; we believe he suffered a shoulder injury that pretty much wrecked his season. Now 26 years old, Welch is signed for next season to once again try to put something together at the NHL level, lest he become another victim of the curse of Greg Malone.

Los Angeles Kings
--no ex-Pens

Minnesota Wild
--no ex-Pens

Montreal Canadiens

Alex Kovalev (82 games, 35 goals, 49 assists)
--In 2006-07 Kovalev looked miserable, scoring just 18 goals and 47 points and becoming a universal whipping boy in the hockey hot-bed of Montreal. Many were wondering if he, at age 35, he was washed up. To his credit, Kovalev re-dedicated himself to achieving a high fitness level, changed his attitude and was the driving offensive force behind Montreal’s best record in the Eastern conference. Personally AK-27’s 86 points were good enough for 11th in the league in scoring. Kovy’s got one more year on his contract with Montreal, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be his last in the NHL.

Tom Kostopolous (67 games, 7 goals, 6 assists, 113 PIMs)
--The “original” TK had a very interesting year. He provided a spark plug like energy for his new team. He got arrested. Then come playoff time he scored 3 goals (one a game winner) in 12 games. But Kostopolous let his emotions get the best of him when he blindsided Philly’s Kimmo Timonen in the face after the Flyers had sealed Game 2 in that series. The Canadiens would lose the next three games and get sent packing and many point to TK’s loss of control as the emotional turning point of the series for both teams.

Interesting side fact that may only interest us: Kostopolous (28 years old) now has 298 career NHL regular season games played. Brooks Orpik (27) and Ryan Malone (28) have 297 and 299 career NHL games played respectively. Kostopolous bounced around more, but we were surprised that he’s played almost identical games as Orpik and Malone. That says something good about the niche TK has been able to create for himself at the NHL level.

Nashville Predators
--no ex-Pens

New Jersey Devils
--no ex-Pens (Ian Moran did play 12 games for their AHL affiliate though, so that warrants at least a mention!)

New York Islanders
Jon Sim (2 games, 0 goals, 1 assist)
--Jon Sim played 15 games for the Penguins but earned a cult following. Internet lore termed the phrase “Jon Sim will eat your soul”. Sim seems to score a lot against the Washington Capitals but only played two games this season in any league. We think injury had something to do with it, but aren’t to sure. Expect the soul eatings to resume next season.

Richard Park (82 games, 12 goals, 20 assists)
--Park, a former Penguin draft picked, scored 2 goals (one short-handed, one on the powerplay) and 2 assists against his former team. He’s drawn our ire for seemingly elevating his game against the Pens. And the stats backed it up, Park shot the puck more times against Pittsburgh than any other team he faced in 2007-08. Dammit, Richard Park is still pissing us off.

Andy Hilbert (70 games, 8 goals, 8 assists)
--The Pens picked Hilbert up at the end of the 2005-06 season and he scored 18 points in 19 games (mainly riding shotgun with Sidney Crosby). Many fans thought this flash-in-the-bottle chemistry meant that Hilbert should be retained and kept with Crosby. They didn’t understand that it’s not that Hilbert is good, it’s that that Crosby guy is.

New York Rangers

Jaromir Jagr (82 games, 25 goals, 46 assists) (10 playoff games, 5g, 10a)

--It’s no secret how we feel about Double J. We were raised on the guy, and as mercurial as he is, we will always respect him. He’s in contract negotiations now with the Rangers and seems to want to return to Manhattan. Many thought after a frustrating year that he would go back to Europe, but Jags was awesome in the playoffs; easily the most assertive offensive player that the Penguins went up against in the post-season. He might have broken his streak of 30 goal seasons, but JJ still has a lot in the tank.

Martin Straka (65 games, 17 goals, 25 assists)
--“The Waterbug” is still ticking in New York, he was the glue that held the Ranger forwards together. Straka will turn 36 before next season starts and is an unrestricted free agent. If the Rangers re-sign Jagr it seems like a lock that they will want to bring Straka back for on and off ice reasons.

Michal Rozsival (80 games, 13 goals, 25 assists)
--Rozsival set a career high in goals scored this season for the Rangers. His transformation from a somewhat suspect defenseman with injury issues to being a legit top four defenseman on a good club has also been pretty amazing. Rozy is an unrestricted free agent now and probably in line for a pretty good (and well deserved) payday from some team. He’s great on the powerplay and has been reliable enough in his own zone.

Ottawa Senators
Shean Donovan (82 games, 5 goals, 7 assists)

--Donovan is another player that’s valuable to NHL teams; he won’t make the cover of the media guide but he will be a guy busting his tail and working hard on lower lines and penalty kills which, as we know, can benefit the team as much as scoring goals. Players like this are essential, but essentially replaceable since there are so many players who bring the same thing to the table. This is why guys like Donovan seem to bounce around the league so much. And look at that, he’s a UFA this summer and could very well be in a new town.

Randy Robitaille (68 games, 10 goals, 19 assists)
--Robitaille had statistically one of his better NHL seasons in 2007-08. He’s a fringe guy with some skill, but seemingly never enough to stick in a full-time role.

Interesting side fact that may only interest us: Randy Robitaille played 81 games as a Pittsburgh Penguin in parts of two seasons. The most heralded Robitaille (that being Luc, of course) only played 46 games with the Pens in 1994-95. The two are unrelated.

Philadelphia Flyers
--no ex-Pens…They do have RJ Umberger who grew up in Pittsburgh, if you didn’t remember from being told thousands of times during telecasts…

Phoenix Coyotes
Matt Murley (3 games, 0 goals, 1 assist)

--Murley’s almost like a Toby Petersen type player: he can and will score about a point-per-game at the AHL level (62 points in 76 games there this year) and be a difference maker there. But he just hasn’t had the needed skill, luck, consistency (or some combination of the three) to be thought of as a regular NHL’er.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Unrestricted Free Agents: Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, Brooks Orpik, Jarkko Ruutu, Georges Laraque, Adam Hall, Pascal Dupuis, Ty Conklin, Gary Roberts, Jeff Taffe, Kris Beech, Nathan Smith, Connor James, Mark Eaton, Alain Nasreddine, Ryan Lannon

Here’s hoping that if any of them make this season re-cap next year playing on another team it will be filled with words of positives…Except against their old team, of course.

San Jose Sharks
--no ex-Pens

St. Louis Blues
Micki Dupont (2 games, 0 goals, 0 assist)
--Micki Dupont might be John Slaney’s younger brother. Both are very talented and skilled defenseman that are great skaters and move the puck very well. Both put up huge numbers at every level….Except the NHL

Tampa Bay Lightning

Michel Ouellet (64 games, 17 goals, 19 assists)
--Coming off a 48 point season in 2006-07, Ouellet got a two year contract from the Lightning. However a shoulder injury this past season hampered our former friendly garbage-man’s production. It was something of a throw-away year for the Lightning in general though. It’ll be interesting to see how another new coach for Ouellet works out for him.

Andre Roy (63 games, 4 goals, 3 assists)
--Andre Roy got sent home from the team for a week in March for going mental during a game and basically trying to attack opposing players and fans alike. The night that Crosby injured his ankle, Roy decided to score 3 out of his 7 points on the year to lead the Lightning to a 3-0 win. This blog’s editor really should let things go, but sometimes useless knowledge like that just sticks.

Karl Stewart (9 games, 0 goals, 0 assists)
--Here’s where you’d find a recap about Karl Stewart if we knew anything to write or if you actually would have bothered to read it. Hooray Karl Stewart!

Toronto Maple Leafs
Dominic Moore (68 games, 5 goals 12 assists combined between Minnesota and TML)

--Moore’s set to be a UFA and could be on the move again. He’s a heady forward, good at playing D and unspectacular. He’s another one of those guys that teams like having on their club for the most part, but don’t go out of their way to retain him for too long.

Vancouver Canucks
Markus Naslund (82 games, 25 goals, 30 assists)

For some rationalization to make Pens fans about this monstrosity of a trade, let's play a game of point/counter-point

Point!: Naslund’s stats have been sliding for the past five seasons, he got paid $6 million last year and couldn’t even lead his team to the playoffs.

Counter-point!: Alek Stojanov hasn’t been listed in professional hockey for the past seven years.

Yep, we harbor no ill feelings for that anymore...

Washington Capitals
Matt Bradley (77 games, 7 goals, 11 assists)

-- Washington has decided that Bradley, the proverbial NHL plugging forward, is a part of their future and core of their team when they gave him a three-year contract recently. Good on him, he’s a hard working player that seems to be well liked and respected in a fairly young Washington dressing room.

Whew, that's it. From the stars like Jagr and Kovalev to the obscure like Dupont and Stewart, there's your list of former Penguins who appeared in an NHL game in 2007-08. If we missed someone, please call us a moron and point out the mistake in the comments. Huge credit to hockeydb, nhlnumbers and The Pensblog images and the fine folks who made the,


The Peerless said...




Think this team could make a playoff?

Hooks Orpik said...

I don't think they would be a playoff team, probably too weak and shallow on defense and in goal.

Still not a bad Top 6 group of forwards though.

The Peerless said...

which is pretty much a description of the early 2000's Penguins...

Hooks Orpik said...

A very kind description of that mostly abominable bunch, Peerless.

narcolept said...

you forgot Carcillo. I'm sure there are others, but that was the only glaring omission I saw. good list though!

Hooks Orpik said...

Carcillo came up in the Penguins minor league system but never got a regular season game with Pittsburgh.

I did omit J.S. Aubin who played 18 games with the LA Kings this season. So far that's the only former Penguin with NHL action that's been pointed out