Pens Mailbag: Post Trade Deadline

I always try doing these but they usually come with little success. This time around, I got DM’s and tweets of you guys asking questions so I finally got the chance to post one answering your guys’ questions. I enjoy answering these questions and it’s not to have more than 240 characters to elaborate.

The game plan will be to do these bi-weekly and I figured there would be some buzz around the Penguins with the trade deadline just passing by and the Penguins adding Derick Brassard.

Without further ado, let’s answer your questions!

Q: Hey man! With the recent addition of Brassard, do you feel this move solidified the Pens as favorites for the Cup? Also, who do you feel is the biggest threat in the Eastern Conference to stopping a 3-peat? -@DonnieDruin

A: Hey Donnie! I think the Pens become a much more legitimate threat in the East with Brassard as we’ve seen what happens when you have three, and even four, solid centers and complementary pieces around those centers. Solidifying them as THE favorite is tough.

Tampa Bay acquires Ryan McDonagh and J. T. Miller and that makes them a bit scarier. The Pens match up well against Tampa in recent years though. The team I’d be legitimately scared of is Boston. They’re playing some awesome hockey and everything clicks on their team. They have the making of a team that can win playoff games so don’t count them out.

Q: Are you worried about Hunwick as the final 3rd pairing defenseman, should they have added another for depth/insurance purposes at the deadline? -@matty4_matera2

A: I’ll say this: Matt Hunwick is a much more offensively inclined player than Ian Cole. The Penguins liked him because of that offensive ability he brings.

He was incredible on Alex Ovechkin in the playoffs last season and helped take Toronto to game seven against Washington. He hasn’t done that this season.

I’m much more comfortable with Chad Ruhwedel as the sixth defenseman but I think Hunwick has the higher upside. Until Hunwick legitimately proves he can’t be a top-six defenseman, I think you’ll see him in there.

Q: If you could instantly possess the skills or looks of any professional athlete…who and why? Can’t have both. I’m torn between Geno’s sick stick handling skills or Phil’s wrister. Of course, I have to work on my skating a little bit too. Ha. -@nwoArmy

A: I’ll give you two answers to this.

If we are just going Penguins, I’d have to go with Sidney Crosby’s IQ. I am far from the most intelligent hockey mind but I feel that I know enough to have an intelligent conversation about hockey. To have the hockey IQ Sid possesses would make watching and discussing hockey that much more fun.

As for professional athlete? I think I’d LOVE to have Derek Jeter’s charm. He’s a one-of-a-kind human being and his ability to charm fans of all ages, genders, and the like makes him and his charm the one thing I’d want if I had the choice.

Q: What team do you think has the best chance at taking out the Pens in a playoff series? -@LB13HKY

A: As I said previously, I think Boston is one team that could wear down the Penguins.

I think the Penguins match up well against Tampa Bay. Washington will always be the Penguins little brother until they prove otherwise. The Flyers are kind of scary this season but the Penguins likely can beat them.

I also wouldn’t discount the Devils as we saw Tuesday night that they can fly and have handled the Penguins really well this season. If they sneak into the postseason, that’s a team I would not take lightly.

Q: Construct the Pens lines/pairings how you want them when fully healthy. -@Z23smitty

A: I like this question. I’ll take a stab at it.

Guentzel-Crosby-Sprong

Rust-Malkin-Hornqvist

Hagelin-Brassard-Kessel

Kuhnhackl-Sheahan-Aston-Reese

Dumoulin-Letang

Maatta-Schultz

Hunwick-Oleksiak

Murray

(Whoever the hotter goalie is)

So, I really think Sid and Guentzel need to stick. I’d love to see Sprong get another call to the NHL and play with Sid again and see if they can get that trio going.

Rust and Malkin have become inseparable at this point and Hornqvist fits right into that line.

That would allow you to reunite a new “HBK” line with a tad better center than you had before. And then a very competent fourth line.

Keep the defense pairings the way they are now and just roll the hotter backup goalie come playoff time because the backup goalie is irrelevant unless Matt Murray sustains an injury (knock on wood).

Q: In what year will the Penguins pick a player in the first round again? -@Winkowski98

A: Well, they haven’t taken one in Jim Rutherford’s tenure and you’d have to go all the way back to Kasperi Kapanen in 2013 for the last one taken.

As long as the Penguins are led by Crosby and Malkin, Rutherford will trade first-round picks to acquire pieces for those guys to succeed. I have no answer to this question.

Q: If you could add any player under 20 to this team, who would it be? -@Winkowski98

A: This may not be the sexiest answer, but I’d love a guy like Samuel Girard. The Penguins have Olli Maatta who is still very young but they are kond of devoid of any big-time defense prospects and adding a youthful defensemen to that mix like Girard would be awesome to see.

Q: Who out of – Kunitz, Cullen, Hainsey, Daley – could help this year’s team the most? -@Winkowski98

A: This is an interesting question simply because my answer varies based on when you would’ve asked this.

Earlier this season, I’d have said Kunitz simply for the fact that he’d been around for a while and the Penguins could’ve used him for wing depth at the very affordable price of $2 million.

After the trade deadline, I would take Daley. The Penguins miss will miss Ian Cole but Brassard is obviously the better player. With Matt Hunwick in the lineup consistently now, Daley’s penalty kill and offensive game will be missed.

Q: What is the greatest trade the Penguins have made in your lifetime? (If different) what was your favorite sentimentally? -Winkowski98

A: Rob Scuderi for Travor Daley, baby. Don’t think there was ever a trade so lopsided and beneficial for the Penguins.

Q: Legitimate chances we 3-peat. Like a numbered percentage, in your opinion. -@SGRobinson97

A: I’ll go 50%. It all depends on the opponent’s. I like their chances a lot with the Brassard trade. Giving Matt Hunwick a full-time chance with no one really breathing down his neck may give him some more comfort.

If Matt Murray gets back to playing like he can when he returns from his concussion, the Penguins have as good of a chance as anyone.

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