Q: Is the reason the Penguins signed so many players to one-year contracts because of the possibility of a lower cap ceiling for next year? Or, are they just not sure about some of those players for the long term because of age, talent, etc.?
Doug Buzard, Dresden, Ohio
MOLINARI: General manager Ray Shero does not, as a rule, give contracts longer than two years to players who are not part of the team's nucleus of young talent. Doing otherwise could deny him the financial flexibility that he believes is critical to maintaining a competitive club; that approach has cost him the chance to retain free agents like Jarkko Ruutu and Adam Hall, who were offered three-year deals elsewhere, but Shero obviously believes the trade-off is worth it, and the Penguins' success during his tenure makes it hard to argue with that approach.
What's more, guys like Jay McKee, Bill Guerin and Brent Johnson don't figure to be part of the franchise's long-range plans and didn't have the leverage (and/or the inclination) to compel Shero to offer a multi-year agreeement.
But even if Shero wasn't reluctant to make long-term commitments to more players, he probably would have been wary of doing so this summer because of the expected drop in the cap cei ling for the 2010-11 seaaon.
Teams that are flirting with the cap for the coming season, including the Penguins, will have to be able to plug younger, lower-priced talent into their lineup next fall if they hope to have a realistic chance of holding onto their core talent, and having veterans on contracts that expire in the summer of 2010 will help to make that possible.
Q: Recently, the NHL has spoken of changing how large goaltending equipment can be. Would it be a good idea if the NHL were to substantially decrease the size of equipment, in order to increase scoring? Do you see it really happening?
Steven Pavlik, Pittsburgh
MOLINARI: There has been sentiment in some circles to again reduce the size of pads and other protective equipment with the objective of creating more goals, but no indication that anything is imminent. The thinking here is that if shrinking equipment would significantly increase the possibility of goaltenders being injured, the decision-makers should come up with another way to generate offense if that's such a pressing concern. Playing goal is difficult and dangerous enough -- especially in an era when composite sticks add velocity to the shots of almost every forward and defenseman -- as it is.
Q: I thought I would just pass along a story about the generosity Sidney Crosby that stretches all the way here to Alberta. A Tim
Horton's in Strathmore, Alberta had a framed picture of Crosby playing Timbits hockey as a youngster stolen off the wall a couple of weeks back. Crosby heard about this and immediately had a signed, framed picture of him hoisting the Stanley Cup sent to that Tim Horton's. It was a complete surprise to the owner and just goes to show the generosity of Mr. Crosby, which is shown over and over.
Craig Lester, Calgary, Alberta
MOLINARI: That story, which generated considerable attention in Canada, will not be even a tiny surprise to people who know Crosby, although it likely will do nothing to alter the opinions of those who dislike him.
Crosby does an awful lot of things like that go unreported, as this would have been if someone in Alberta hadn't circulated word of it.