Q: I'm not dazzled with the Pens' acquisition of Bill Guerin. Watching him with New York, I was very disappointed with his performance this year. These days, he looks nothing like the guy who was so great for the Boston Bruins a few years ago.
Greg Wood, Frostburg, Md.
MOLINARI: Well, that's probably because he's 38 years old, and no longer is the player he was during his days in Boston. Or Edmonton. Or New Jersey. Or Dallas or St. Louis, for that matter.
That also would explain why they were able to acquire Guerin for a fifth-round draft choice (a No. 4 if the Penguins make the playoffs, a third-rounder if they win a round) as opposed to say, giving up Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a No. 1 draft choice for him.
There certainly is no guarantee Guerin will have a major offensive impact, even though he figures to get work alongside Sidney Crosby and on the power play, but the Penguins do hope they can count on him for some grit and leadership. If he can provide that, bringing him in will be a worthwhile gamble, even though it obviously isn't a long-term solution to the issue of finding a quality linemate for Crosby.
It's possible that working with a playmaker like Crosby will kindle a spark in the skills that made it possible for Guerin to score 25 or more goals eight times, but that probably isn't realistic to expect.
Guerin's output during his four most recent postseason appearances suggests that no one should assume his production will spike during the postseason, either: He has three goals and four assists in his past 23 playoff games.
Q: What will become of Miroslav Satan? If I followed the logic correctly, he was placed on waivers to create room under the salary cap. Since Guerin's salary is higher than Satan's, does that mean he is lost for the rest of the season provided they do not clear any more room? What will be his fate? Although he did not live up to expectations, he still seems too good a player to be lost for the rest of the year.
Mike, Colorado Springs, Colo.
MOLINARI: Satan was assigned to the Penguins' American Hockey League team in Wilkes-Barre yesterday after the deal to acquire Guerin and his $4.5 million contract from the New York Islanders was finalized.
Satan's salary is $3.5 million, and adding Guerin to the payroll didn't leave room for Satan, who had been put on waivers Tuesday and cleared yesterday.
As things stand now, it's pretty much out of the question that Satan will return during the regular season unless the Penguins lose someone to a long-term injury. The salary cap remains in effect through the regular season, and the Penguins apparently don't even have the space to accommodate the 50 percent of Satan's salary for which they would be responsible if another club claimed him on re-entry waivers.
It remains to be seen whether Satan actually will pull on a Baby Penguins sweater, let alone when that might happen. General manager Ray Shero likely will give Satan a few days to ponder his situation and decide if he wants to play in the minors leagues for the first time since the 1994-95 season. Eventually, he will have to either go to Wilkes-Barre or be suspended, but Shero's track record in such matters makes it clear he won't hound Satan for an instant decision.
If Satan goes to Wilkes-Barre, it's conceivable that he could be back in the NHL for the playoffs, because the salary cap is not in effect then, but he presumably would be nothing more than a spare part unless the Penguins have injuries.
All in all, Satan is facing an anticlimactic conclusion to a season that has to be a huge disappointment for all concerned.