Ross: Will Daniel Sprong see the NHL again this year or is he going to stay down?
Seth Rorabaugh: All indications are the Penguins intend to have Daniel Sprong join the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins provided his junior team's season ends before the AHL Penguins' season.
Pope: Do you see the Pens acquiring anyone at the trade deadline? I think JR was active earlier in the season and did really well with getting Hagelin and Daley.
Seth Rorabaugh: I never rule anything out with Jim Rutherford. He has proven he is very aggressive with trades regardless of the time of year and one figures the trade deadline would not be exempt. Given the injury to Ben Lovejoy and the long-term prognosis for it, I would expect him to focus on finding a bottom pairing defender.
Ryan: Let's say that the pens find a way to add both a winger and a defenseman. Of the available names out there, who do you think are the most likely to end up with Pittsburgh?
Seth Rorabaugh: I'm really hesitant to put any names out there. I just don't find it responsible to cite a name and run the risk of becoming the source of some bogus rumor. There are other places that can give you irresponsible information. This isn't one of them.
Guest: Hi Seth, with the way the Pens play against Boston, Wash, NY other teams with good defensive structure, is there any way they even win the first playoff series if they get there.? I see another one and done for them. It's disappointing. What do you think?
Seth Rorabaugh: I think the only team they are guaranteed to lose to would be the Capitals. That team is just light years ahead of anyone in the Eastern Conference. If the Penguins can avoid the Capitals in the first round, they certainly have a chance to advance but only because the rest of the conference is, like them, mediocre. Yes, they have bad recent histories against the likes of the Rangers or Bruins and even the Lightning, but none of those teams really seem like an overwhelming favorite.
Ryan: Would you say that JR has any added pressure to make a move after the ,for lack of a better word, pathetic game in Boston last night?
Seth Rorabaugh: I wouldn't say last night's game impacted any motivation to make a move. As stated earlier, Ben Lovejoy's injury probably makes it a little more important to find another depth defenseman. I think David Warsofsky has played well at times, but it would be a little more comforting to see another alternative to him or Ian Cole.
Pope: Speaking of Jim Rutherford, what is your opinion of his trades? Losing Despres for Lovejoy = BAD. Losing a 2nd rounder for Winnick = BAD. Kessel signing = TBD. Losing a 1st rounder for Perrone = BAD. Getting Hagelin = GOOD. Getting Daley = GOOD. He's batting close to 500 in my opinion.
Seth Rorabaugh: Point of order, Phil Kessel was acquired via a trade and not a signing. Regardless, he's definitely been aggressive but with mixed results.
Pope: Sticking with JR and his signings, did we really need Fehr, Bonnino and Cullen? Fehr and Bonnino have been underwhelming. Cullen has been serviceable.
Seth Rorabaugh: GIven that Brandon Sutter was jettisoned in the offseason, they needed someone to replace those minutes on the third line. Bonino was coming off two strong seasons, arguably stronger than Sutter's previous two seasons, but he has probably been the team's biggest disappointment. I would give Fehr an incomplete given his injuries. And it's scary to think how this team could have navigated the current absences of Evgeni Malkin, Fehr and Bonino without Cullen.
Joe: How surprising has the play of Brian Dumoulin been to you this season? He is really starting to look like a solid defenseman.
Seth Rorabaugh: Out of the three "young guys" on defense - Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot being the others, Dumoulin has easily been the best. He's just so steady. He'll never blow anyone away with his basic statistics but he usually seems to make the right play and is capable of locking down on most defensive forwards. When you consider how bad Kris Letang was the first month and a half of the season, I would argue Dumoulin has been their most consistent defenseman all season.
Were: The Penguins stink
Seth Rorabaugh: That strikes me as a hygiene issue.
Jeff: Seth I know the Pens are in the market for a D man. Is there any interest for acquire a forward, and if so who would you want to get?
Seth Rorabaugh: As stated earlier, I would assume finding a depth defenseman has become a bigger issue in the wake of Ben Lovejoy's injury. With Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bonino on the verge of returning and some strong performances by the replacements from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, forward just isn't as big of an issue. But never say never with Jim Rutherford. Again, I won't cite any names. I just feel it's irresponsible.
Ryan: What are your feelings on the pens being so hesitant/against getting some grit on this team? I know that the style they want to play is all about speed but it's been somewhat clear that might not be the best way to to get through the East with teams like Boston//NYR/NYI and even the caps with guys like Wilson and Chimera.
Seth Rorabaugh: This past offseason, Jim Rutherford was pretty up front about wanting skill over toughness on the roster. And you can't really say he's failed in that regard. It's a pretty skilled lineup from top to bottom. You have some AHL all-stars on the fourth line at the moment. The thing that really strikes me as odd is how much they've reversed direction on this. Last season, it seemed to be a priority with the signing of Steven Downie and even the training camp invitation extended to Daniel Carcillo. In the span of a year, they've all but abandoned it.
Matt: Will we ever see Beau back on the ice again this season?
Seth Rorabaugh: It's a good question. He has started to skate a bit before practices and morning skates. Head coach Mike Sullivan was asked about Bennett Tuesday and said he's making progress but described him as still long term.
Pope: Is Beau back with the Pens next season?
Seth Rorabaugh: I will lean towards him returning but only based on the Penguins controlling his signing rights as a restricted free agent.
Ryan: If we get bounced in the first round again this year, is JR back next season?
Seth Rorabaugh: Another early exit or worse yet, a non-playoff season, which is a very real possibility, would surely force change. His predecessor was fired after a second-round exit.
Pope: How many more years is Kunitz under contract?
Seth Rorabaugh: He has one more year after this season.
JT in Peters: Sundqvist likely goes back to WBS when Geno-Bonino (ha!) are back, but who's the other? My money is on Porter because Kuhnhakl has been pretty good. Thoughts?
Seth Rorabaugh: If everyone was healthy, I would wager on Porter being the last to be sent back. Sullivan (and before him, Johnston) trust the guy quite a bit. One thing I've learned with coaches, the greatest asset a player can have is the coach's trust.
Goran: Seth, I think the biggest problem this year is lack of consistancy. They play a couple games great, then back to careless, turn the puck over, weak shot team. I can not figure out this trend, ie coaching, players, or they are just not as good as we thing they should be. What are your thoughts?
Seth Rorabaugh: It's pretty baffling and it's been ongoing all season. I think once Malkin and some other return, things will stabilize a bit. Their best stretch of games came with Malkin centering that second line with Hagelin and Kessel and that wasn't a coincidence. Regardless, Sullivan seemed pretty mad last night about the way the team played last night's game with regards to details. I'm sure he'll get their attention when they practice next on Friday.
Seth Rorabaugh: Okay. Chat's a wrap. Have a nice day.
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