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If anything, the other teams in Pittsburgh have shown them that the small market label does not apply, so stop using it as an excuse.
You can't compare baseball (no salary cap) to hockey and football.
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Brag post time. Lots of people saw pictures of Malkin practicing and Fleury in his new pads but I just saw them in person during a closed practice.     I was down at the arena to get my security

Yes I agree that Crosby kids gotta go. Can I interest you in a phaneuf?

JapersRink ‏@JapersRink · 20m Really looking forward to Dan Bylsma being either an idiot who can't win with Sid or a genius who can win without a bottom-6 after tonight.

well, I think it's completely reasonable to criticize the writer over his choice of argument re: Fleury. Yeah, the Pens screwed up (See Dale's post), but using 20/20 hindsight isn't the way to go about convincing anyone.I mean, how many IDIOT GMs passed over Lundqvist?!?
What the Pens should really be kicking themselves for is not drafting the best player on the Canadian Olympic Team in Vancouver when they had a chance and instead drafted a third line center.
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You can't look back at drafts and ask "what if" for a means of criticism, or at least a lone draft or two.You make the best decision at the time with the information you have available. We should know that better than anyone here as poker players.Maybe if you are consistently drafting garbage in the early rounds, and you have a serious trend developing, maybe you can point these things out, but as we all know, hindsight is 20/20.

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You can't look back at drafts and ask "what if" for a means of criticism, or at least a lone draft or two.
Sure you can it's a lot of fun. We're fans on an internet forum.Looking at the Pens drafting record over the last decade objectively they seem to have done a fairly poor job with their first round picks other than Crosby and Malkin and those were no brainers.It's not like Fleury and Staal are failures like some other picks the Pens have made like Dome and Koltsov, far from it but the Pens could have done better with those picks. In Staals case they passed on Toews and Backstrom and even Kessel would probably be a better fit on the Pens. Let's also not forget Whitney 5th overall in 2002 although looking at that draft it was a horrible year.
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You can't compare baseball (no salary cap) to hockey and football.
Maybe not entirely fairly, but I think the Pens have proven that being in Pittsburgh is not a detriment to spending, at the very least, the league average, and still finding a way to win in a league without a salary cap.Lets face it, the Pirates cant blame their losing on being in Pittsburgh. They could if they kept losing to NYY, NYM, LAD and BOS, but I dont think thats their problem.
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I disagree that Kessel would be a better fit on the Penguins. We've been quite successful with our strength down the middle, so I'd rather take that than have someone like Kessel as one of the big 2's wingers.Only guys I'd take over Staal would be Backstrom and Toews, who are both centers as well.In Fleury's year, the only person on the radar I would have taken over him would have been Eric Staal. Other guys who ended up being beasts from that year, Getzlaf, Perry, Richards, Carter, Parise all went in the 2nd half of the first round. Obviously it would have been nice to see the future and pick one of them, but who knows where this team would have been without Fleury.It's so easy to criticize people after an off-year. Malkin and Fleury both had mediocre seasons, by their standards, so they get trashed (well, Fleury just gets trashed all the time). Malkin won the biggest individual award in the NHL last season, and hoisted a Stanley Cup. Fleury played a HUGE roll in the playoffs and the turnaround as well, so in my mind, both are even. If Fleury can't put together another season like he did in 2009, then ok, maybe he's a bust, but one mediocre season doesn't prove anything to me.The Patrick era sucked for the Penguins, in terms of drafting.They all went after Europeans, maybe in an effort to keep Jagr happy or something. They kept going for the high risk/high reward type guys. They had a few draftees who have been moderately successful outside of the NHL, but not much outside of North Americans who have done anything here.I'm waiting to see what the Shero era in drafting will bring us. Staal was his first pick, IIRC.And back to the Staal thing, look at it when he was drafted, and immediately afterwards. He made the team in 2006-07, while Toews and Backstrom did not for whatever reasons. He scored 29 goals. Since then, he's been thrust into a 3rd line shutdown center role, which he has adapted to and played brilliantly, all while scoring 20+ goals and 49 points in each of the last two seasons (his offensive numbers regressed in his first year as a 3rd line center). He's obviously not as flashy as Backstrom or Toews, but I think in the specific role that he's asked to fulfill on his team, he's pretty close to as good as those other two, and I wouldn't ask for much more.Given that Jordan Staal isn't even 22 years old yet, I'd say it's too early for a conclusive analysis anyways.

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I generally trust+value your Pens opinions Zach, cause they're usually objective+accurate. So, let me ask a straight question, and I will trust your answer. Outside of last years playoffs, have you seen a lot from Fleury to suggest he was worthy of being a first pick overall, or maybe more to the point, that he is an "elite" goalie? Cause I havent. I think he is good, and I think he had a great run in the playoffs last year. But there are a lot of goalies I can say this about. Which makes me put him in the over-rated category, cause a lot of people see him as a top 5/10gtd in the NHL. And Im not sure he is any better than the guys most would rank 10-20.Difference is, Fleury is still very young for a gtd, and his best may be yet to come.

Given that Jordan Staal isn't even 22 years old yet, I'd say it's too early for a conclusive analysis anyways.
I believe if given the opportunity, Staal could match Toews in scoring or be very close. I think Staal has a very big untapped offensive upside.Id rather have Toews, but I think right now, the difference in offensive talent/ability is not as big as most think or what the stats bear out.
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I generally trust+value your Pens opinions Zach, cause they're usually objective+accurate. So, let me ask a straight question, and I will trust your answer. Outside of last years playoffs, have you seen a lot from Fleury to suggest he was worthy of being a first pick overall, or maybe more to the point, that he is an "elite" goalie? Cause I havent. I think he is good, and I think he had a great run in the playoffs last year. But there are a lot of goalies I can say this about. Which makes me put him in the over-rated category, cause a lot of people see him as a top 5/10gtd in the NHL. And Im not sure he is any better than the guys most would rank 10-20.Difference is, Fleury is still very young for a gtd, and his best may be yet to come.
Yeah, it's tough to disagree with this.I think he has boatloads of natural skill, which helps a ton. It's hard to compare him to anyone as a "1st overall pick" because goalies never go that early, and it's pretty tough to say who would be a better fit on this team, him or Eric Staal, you know? I know Ray Shero's philosophy when he drafts is that he takes the player whom he deems to be the "best player available" when it's his chance to pick, regardless of position, risk, readiness, etc. I don't know what Patrick did when he drafted Fleury. Maybe he was thinking that the weakest link in the future, or the toughest position to fill from the outside would be goaltending, so he deemed it a prudent investment, or he was willing to give up a bit to take the 2nd or 3rd BPA. I dunno.Fleury though, has shown flashes of brilliance, and his pure skill is pretty tough to question. I guess his biggest problems have been the same old things. Rebound control, overplaying situations, and perhaps his mental toughness. Last year, he definitely put it all together. Controlled his rebounds a lot better, stayed poised in the net, didn't overplay 2-on-1s, etc. This year, it just didn't seem to all come together at once. However, a lot of that could be because of the defense being noticeably worse in Pittsburgh this year. I think Scuderi and Gill were missed a lot more than people imagined they would be, so that could be exploiting his flaws a little more than usual this year.I guess, after last season, a lot of guys would say he was in that "elite" class, but I guess after regressing this year, it'd be a lot more debatable. I would probably put him in the 2nd class or whatever, just outside of elite, after what I saw this year.I don't know if I ever really expected him to be Roy or Brodeur or anything. He'll go out there and win games, he should steal the odd one (although he didn't do much of that this year), and he'll make those big saves when it really matters, even if he's already let in 4 goals (although he didn't do much of that this year).I guess what I'm saying is that there's something in him that could make him a near-elite goalie, that being the natural skills he brings, his athleticism, etc, but this season didn't do him any favors. I won't be worried until he plays like this consistently, though, just like I wouldn't call him elite until he played like an elite goalie consistently.Also, I wanted to touch on the point I mentioned earlier, about his "mental game". I think that's an unjust criticism for him, although it doesn't pop up as much anymore. After his WJC mishap, people thought his confidence would be ruined, but he's been one of the best bounce-back type goalies in the league the last few years. His performances after game 5 vs Detroit last year, and just bouncing back after giving up super soft goals, etc.That's the last thing, those soft goals. They weren't there nearly as much last year, and non-existent in the playoffs. They have to go.
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Good points Z. I dont disagree with you at all. But what I was also curious to hear from you was....forget this year, but forget last playoffs too. What did you think of him as of, say, February 2009?But yeah, still verrrrry early.

So was taking EJ #1 a mistake for the Blues?Because I was rooting for them to go for Staal at the time.
fwiw, I dont believe it was. I think EJ is going to be a Norris winner someday, sooner rather than later.
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By the logic that he's not Toews or Backstrom, sure.
that doesn't sound like very good logic at all
fwiw, I dont believe it was. I think EJ is going to be a Norris winner someday, sooner rather than later.
so long as he walks on the course
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I would move Staal up to one of the top two lines and play him as a winger.
Yeah, I mean that'd be cool, but it's been tried a bunch of times since his rookie year, and it hasn't really done anything positive.Staal's biggest assets make him a really good fit down the middle, so it's tough to put him on the wing and make him use his skills less, if you know what I'm trying to say.
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If anything, Malkin would be a better fit on the wing. He's not very good at faceoffs, he likes to float in the D zone and lead the breakout, much like a wing. His defensive game is not extraordinary, but decent hand-eye-stick coordination for cutting off those point passes. He's very rarely involved in board play because he's Russian and a better fit for a free flow game.Staal on the other hand is every thing that Geno isn't and thus a much better center than a fit for a winger.

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I remember after Malkin was drafted, there were rave reviews about his defensive/two-way game. I think it's still good, but it's not as outstanding as those reviews made it.

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Didn't Malkin lead the league in takeaways last year? He's no Datsyuk for sure but he's no slouch in the defensive zone. (though this year he regressed for sure) In case you haven't noticed I'm really an advocate of not changing it up. Obviously there's gonna be some openings at winger and some money to play with if they don't bring back Fedo, Gonchar, Guerin, Cooke, and Poni. Dupius and Kunitz and be the puck retrievers and all they need are a couple of Sykora (from 3 years ago) type of guys. I haven't had a chance to look at the free agents but there's gotta be some littler name guys that could have the potential to step up with game with world class playmakers feeding them the puck.New Photos of the CEC - http://penguins.nhl.com/club/gallerylandin...-email-penguinsWe need to organize a Pittsburgh trip this upcoming year. A good group of us at the game followed by some primantis or south side, station square, etc would be good times.

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But if Philly wins, that will make the rivalry better!-SBriand
ya f that line of thinking. :)I would like to continue to use the 1975 line against Flyer Fans. I can't decide if I like that more than the 19?? line against Caps Fans.
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I'm a Hossa fan for the rest of the playoffs, and I surprisingly don't feel too bad about it. He took a good bit of abuse, but I'm actually kinda hoping he gets to hoist the Cup after all of it. The fact that he's playing Philly doesn't hurt my vote, but I'd like to think I'd kinda be rooting for him either way.

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