March 2nd, 2014

Dobber Sports

2014-03-02

As Saturday night unfolded – and the vast majority of games were played in the afternoon  to avoid counterprogramming the 5th outdoor game of the year in Chicago – the Ryan Kesler story, and the Penguins’ “aggressive pursuit” of the two-way ace, morphed into one of the major story lines. 

 

It was pretty funny to see the Penguins offer – Brandon Sutter, Simon Despres/Brian Dumolin, a first, and a third! – literally devalue by the minute during the outdoor game against Chicago. Despres had an error prone outing, while Sutter took a shot to the face and appeared to have injured himself (he was ultimately fine, or so he said postgame)…

 

As for the reported offer itself: whoa boy, I think Mike Gillis is in serious trouble if that’s what the ultimate Ryan Kesler package looks like. I have a lot of time for Despres and Sutter, but I don’t see either player as a potential star going forward, and I don’t think that opinion falls way outside the consensus. If the Canucks are dealing Kesler, and it sure seems like they are, their embattled general manager needs to be getting a player who might be a star back…

 

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The funny thing about the proposed Kesler package is that it’s also a really steep price to pay for the Penguins, even if it’s (or should be) insufficient for the Canucks. Still, any time you can add a player like Ryan Kesler without giving up either of your two best young blue-line assets – have to think that’s a win. 

 

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Tyler Dellow did a really good job breaking down Pittsburgh’s inept forward depth on Saturday, and yeah, a significant upgrade to their bottom-six forward group seems like it might be helpful. On the other hand I look at Sutter’s most regular line-mates this season – Tanner Glass, Chris Conner, Chuck Kobasew, Joe Vitale, Craig Adams – and I’m not sure 2014 Kelser provides much of an answer. Kesler isn’t 27 anymore, and his days of dragging replacement level pieces to a 55%+ corsi for rate may be behind him.

 

In other words I think this rumored Kesler deal, if it were to go down, might be the rare “lose-lose” trade – at least in the short-term.

 

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Let’s begin our breakdown of last night’s action with the marquee event – the fifth outdoor game of the year between the Penguins and the Blackhawks at Solider’s Field. 

 

Honestly I think this might have been the best of the outdoor contests so far this year. The environment seemed right and soldier’s field looked lovely in the snow on my television. The teams looked good too in two of the better outdoor sweaters we’ve seen this year, and the matchup was just sick. 

 

Jonathan Toews ultimately got the better of Sidney Crosby by predictably getting the better of Brooks Orpik, but what a fun game.

 

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One final Penguins note: does anybody think their play without the puck is championship caliber? I’ll hang up and listen…

 

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The offensively challenged New Jersey Devils put up six on the New York Islanders, a result which says an awful lot about the Islanders.

 

Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas – one of the more intriguing fantasy newcomers of the season – played nearly 20 minutes which is great news for fantasy owners, especially since Gelinas pi