The Pittsburgh Penguins are just one of the many teams that have shown interest in signing restricted-free-agent Brandon Saad to an offer sheet during upcoming weeks. While Saad is a great player, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has stated that he will do everything in his power to keep him.
We’ve previously discussed how Saad could help the Penguins, but would he be worth the acquisition cost?
No one can be sure unless we see how well he plays alongside captain Sidney Crosby or superstar Evgeni Malkin.
However, there’s another player the Penguins are rumored to be preparing an offer sheet for and his name is J.T. Miller of the New York Rangers.
Miller is a first-round draft pick from the 2011 NHL entry draft and is fresh off his best season to date.
In 58 regular season games with the Rangers, Miller produced 10 goals, 13 assists and was a +5 skater. But his best work came during the playoffs as he produced one goal and seven assists in 19 games played.
InsidePittsburghSports.com was the first to report the rumor, but unless you’re subscribed to their website you cannot read into the details.
Daily 5: Forget the Brandon Saad talk, a gusty move by Penguins of presenting an offer sheet to J.T. Miller possible http://t.co/Q2ZLaGuSWI
— Insidepghsports (@Insidepghsports) June 18, 2015
Current Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has stated that he is willing to present an offer sheet if he believes the player will aid the team.
Let’s move past if the Penguins attempt to sign Miller and focus on what he could bring to the team.
He’s a young, fast and hungry player who has yet to play his best hockey. If you look into his advanced analytics, they’re not kind to the young center.
However, he is still a very young player who has the opportunity to hone his game and Pittsburgh would be a great place for him to do so. Their star players have a lot they could teach Miller and he could easily develop into a 60+ point forward along side Crosby or Malkin.
Even if the Penguins would choose to utilize Miller as their third line center, he would still be an upgrade over Brandon Sutter – and he costs less.
The Rangers Cap Crunch
So why would the Rangers be willing to give up a young, promising forward? They simply might not have the cap space to keep him.
As of now the Rangers have seven forwards, six defenders and two goalies on the roster, but only $11.5 million in salary cap space. Assuming they will want to carry 13 forwards, seven defenders and two goalies, the Rangers will have to average $1.64 million per player.
That wouldn’t be a problem, except Martin St. Louis, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, James Sheppard, Miller and Jesper Fast are all free agents. Excluding St. Louis, that’s a ton of young forwards, all of whom will be looking for a pay raise.
Realistically, the Penguins could probably acquire Miller if they wanted. The Rangers lack cap space and the Penguins have the draft picks that would be required to obtain his services.
Before you are upset the Pens might actually send more draft picks away, just consider the situation. They’re not trading away draft picks for an old “rental” player, they’re acquiring a young and upcoming forward whom they can keep for years to come.
Regardless of whether or not the Penguins pursue Miller, I fully expect them to present an offer sheet (if not multiple) to a young forward or two.
Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers