Welcome to another article of Pittsburgh Penguins News & Rumors. In this edition, we will touch on the recent rumors surrounding defenseman Seth Jones and goaltender Frederik Andersen. We will also discuss the loss of Sam Ventura in the front office and what it means for the team going forward.
Jones and Pittsburgh?
Jones has been one of the most talked-about players leading up to the offseason, with trade rumors circulating him and the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise. Could we see the big defender heading to the Penguins?
Per Dan Kingerski, it does make sense that the Penguins may have called the Blue Jackets regarding the defender. He states that Jones is a bonafide top-pairing defenseman and is a righty too. He speculates that he could be the heir to Kristopher Letang and maybe even extend his career by taking some of his heavy minutes away. He also mentions that he has just one year remaining on his deal at $5.4 million.
Kingerski says that the Penguins “probably” called but likely didn’t float any potential names that could be heading to Columbus. Kingerski recommends that Penguins fans shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about a Jones trade but shouldn’t completely lock the door on the idea yet.
Jones, 26, had five goals and 28 points through 56 games this season with the Blue Jackets. He also struggled analytically, with a -5.6 goals above replacement (GAR), mainly attributed to his abysmal defensive play this past season. Depending on the ask, he would not be the worst pickup for a team, but it shouldn’t be the Penguins. They can’t afford to give up future assets or a good player for a defenseman who has been underwhelming as of late.
Andersen to Penguins Rumors Breaking Down?
In that same article, Kingerski goes over Andersen and the rumors surrounding recently. He talks about how he was the first name mentioned by a source for the type of goaltender with playoff experience that the Penguins would examine, as the team wanted an experienced backup or 1B in that position after being eliminated in the first round.
Kingerski cites Darren Dreger, saying Andersen wants $5 million annually on his next contract on TSN 1050 radio. He says if this is the case, the Penguins’ interest is likely not there anymore. He suggests perhaps he is just trying to price himself out of Toronto, however, he thinks this indicates he wants to be a starting goaltender elsewhere.
He states that while you should never say never, an Andersen signing is “improbable.”
This past season, Andersen had a 13-8-3 record, .895 save percentage (SV%) and a -11.19 goals saved above expected (GSAx). He has not been positive in this statistic since the 2018-19 season. So the fact that he is asking for so much on this contract is a little confusing. He once was an elite goaltender, but I’m not sure that is the case anymore, and I don’t know if it ever will be due to injuries and age. Time will tell.
Sam Ventura Takes Opportunity With the Sabres
This one really hurts the Penguins here, as the team loses the top piece of their analytics department and one of the smartest guys in the NHL to the Buffalo Sabres. Ventura opted to become the team’s Vice President of Hockey Strategy and Research.
He joined the Penguins back in 2015, starting as a consultant and working his way up to the Director of Analytics and Hockey Research. He won two Stanley Cups with the franchise during his time there.
Without Ventura, the Penguins have one of the smaller analytics departments in the league, with just Katerina Wu, the data scientist, and Nick Citrone, the senior data scientist being the only ones.
I have no doubts that we will see Ventura in charge of an NHL team as a general manager one day if he is interested in the role and a very good one at that, and this will come back to bite the Penguins.
PIT Penguins Writer THW. Instagram: puckempire. Formerly a Florida Panthers writer.