Metropolitan

Pittsburgh Penguins Should Re-Sign Paul Martin

Pittsburgh Penguins Should Re-Sign Paul Martin
Michael Pityk

The Pittsburgh Penguins have made the playoffs, but are they going to make a serious run for the Stanley Cup? No.

Until the Penguins show me something, I’ll stay with that mindset to avoid disappointment because I see the flaws on this roster. With that in mind, it’s time to review performances of 2014-2015 and see which players earned their deals.

First up is the controversial, Paul Martin, who has an expiring $25 million contract ($5 million annual cap hit).

There are numerous holes on the Penguins roster and they will need to spend every dollar of cap space effectively this offseason. This is exactly why management must re-sign Martin to a two- or three-year deal.

The biggest question mark is how much longer can the veteran defender continue playing at a high level? After watching Martin, talking to him and seeing that he can, he seems to have at least two more quality seasons in him. Which is why re-signing him is absolutely crucial to the Pittsburgh Penguins blue line.

Many assume that Martin and Christian Ehrhoff will leave the Penguins after this season and that will solve their salary cap woes. However, they aren’t fully considering the impact that will have on the defense core.

Here are the defenders under contract for next season and their respective salary cap hits.

  • Kris Letang – $7,250,000
  • Rob Scuderi – $3,375,000
  • Ben Lovejoy – $1,100,000
  • Olli Maatta – $894,167
  • Derrick Pouliot – $863,333
  • Scott Harrington – $589,167
  • Brian Dumoulin – $900,000

On paper this group looks great. The Penguins are getting younger and will have a lot of players on entry-level contracts that will help with salary cap issues. However, consider that insider Dejan Kovacevic of DKonPittsburghSports.com has reported that the Pens plan to use a buyout (potentially multiple) this offseason.

Cantidates for buyouts would be Chris Kunitz, Rob Scuderi and Pascal Dupuis. Assume that Scuderi gets bought out because anyone who knows hockey can see he should be and you’re left with six defenders, four of which are under the age of 24.

Lovejoy would be 32 and Letang will be 28, but Letang is coming off of a serious concussion (the fourth of his career and he also suffered a stroke last season) and is projected to be unavailable this offseason. That leaves Lovejoy to mentor and teach the young blueliners.

Yikes.

Realistically the Penguins will strongly consider keeping restricted free agent Ian Cole. However, he is not exactly an experienced veteran himself at only 27-years-old.

I’ve already written before that Letang only plays at an All-Star level alongside Martin, which is just another reason to keep the defender.

What about the salary cap situation? Bleacher Report’s Lyle Richardson has written that Martin’s market has softened as teams are wary of his age. Lyle believes that Martin will be signed for a maximum of $4 million annually for, at most, three years.

So why shouldn’t the Penguins make a run to keep their gritty veteran? They shelled out that much to sign Ehrhoff, who to some extent, hasn’t performed well in Pittsburgh.

Despite losing Ehrhoff, Pouliot and Letang did to the Pens blue line, Martin took on more minutes and has been rock solid. He knows he cannot play 30 minutes a night every game, but is capable to do so in short bursts. Without his play the Penguins would not have made the playoffs.

Assume the Penguins buyout Scuderi, keep Cole and re-sign Martin to a 2 year/$8 million deal, here’s what the the blue line looks like next season.

  • Kris Letang – $7,250,000
  • Paul Martin – $4,000,000
  • Rob Scuderi (dead money) – $1,125,000
  • Ian Cole – $900,000
  • Ben Lovejoy – $1,100,000
  • Olli Maatta – $894,167
  • Derrick Pouliot – $863,333
  • Scott Harrington – $589,167
  • Brian Dumoulin – $900,000

Total:$17,621,667

 

That figure still would be roughly a $4 million decrease from this season and the defensive corps is solid. Here’s what potential pairings would look like:

Martin – Letang

Cole – Maatta

Lovejoy – Pouliot

I know that doesn’t give Dumoulin or Harrington a spot in the lineup, but for the present, this is the best possible lineup. Unless Pittsburgh can trade Lovejoy, I don’t see a better combination of defenders. It’s a balanced unit with veterans up front and youth trickled in the bottom four.

Metropolitan
Michael Pityk
@MPityk

Michael plans to eventually work in the NHL in some capacity. He spends his free time analyzing hockey and studying advanced metrics.

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