In what is probably expected to be a slow, quiet day for a Penguins organization operating with just under $7.5M in cap space, a glaring need for a goaltending upgrade, only 9 forwards with NHL experience under contract, the Penguins kicked off their opening of Free Agency by…re-signing Evan Rodrigues for a year.
Evan Rodrigues stays in Pittsburgh. 1 year, $1 million.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 28, 2021
Evolving Hockey had predicted Rodrigues at 3 years, $1.853M per year re-signing with the Penguins and a 1 year predicted cap hit of $1.158M. Tidy bit of business for the Penguins, all things considered.
Rodrigues had an okay season for the Pens last year. He was slightly below average (only just) at driving offensive with a decent enough shot and was slightly above average in his own end of the ice, both isolated for his own impact…
Adjusting for score and venue in his 35 games and just under 425 minutes at 5v5, the Penguins controlled 48.82% of the expected goals, but 51.26% of the shot attempts, 50.36% of the unblocked shot attempts, and 50.92% of the shots on goal. So the Penguins controlled the shots with him on the ice, just not totally the quality of those shots.
For a team that needs to fill out its bottom six, to bring back a player with some skill and familiarity with the organization, can play all 3 forward positions, and has played nearly everywhere in the top 9, the Pens could have done much worse.
THE BOY HAS COME HOME!
Dominik Simon is returning to the #Pens on a one-year, two-way deal.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 28, 2021
Dom will forever be a curious case study, but now a year removed from shoulder surgery, this is an extremely low risk, medium/high reward deal for Hextall and the Pens.
Simon was good for the Penguins, riding shotgun with 87. Deep down, you know this too.
Ron Hextall on Dominik Simon: "We got good reports. Sully and Patrik know him well. We just felt like we needed depth added up front, and think Dominik will be a real good piece for us moving forward."
— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) July 28, 2021
He didn’t see much playing time in Calgary last year- just over 102 minutes at 5v5 across 11 games. He drove offensive decently well, but the shot is still a concern.
Rare bad defensive contributions, too.
But in his final 3 seasons with the Penguins, the team controlled just north of 54% of the share of expected goals, shot attempts, unblocked attempts, and 53.73% of shots on goal.
And during the 19-20 season with the Pens, despite a bit of an underwhelming season away from Crosby, the results with Crosby and Guentzel were nice and about level with what he had done in previous season.
If the injury is behind him and he reclaims anywhere close to the form he had here previously, it could really provide the Penguins with some flexibility among their forward group.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 28, 2021
This is a spicy one. McGinn is a bottom 6 forward with a 30 point season under his belt (2017-18), entering his age 27 season. He skates hard and throws the body and is presumably your Brandon Tanev replacement on Blueger’s line for a cheaper price.
Ron Hextall on Brock McGinn: "He plays a real inside game. Got really good energy, physical player. He plays the same way every night. We really valued the player, but we also valued the intangibles he brings on a nightly basis and into the locker room."
— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) July 28, 2021
This past season was arguably his best from an isolated impact standpoint (though the primary points dried up as the season wore on), where he recorded 8 goals and 13 points across 37 games, averaging 14:59 of total ice time. Do not look at his 2018-19 offensive impacts.
Defensively, he’s fairly strong. As mentioned, he drove offense well this year and his shot was slightly above average as well.
Via Corey Sznajder, McGinn is a guy that teeters on the average line in terms of generating offense around the forecheck. Not much of a rush player, but plays down low, recovering just under 4.5 dump ins per hour of 5v5 play.
And for the snapshot folks, he’s a fine little addition for the price and contributions.
Brock McGinn got a 4 year deal with Penguins with $2.750M AAV. He is solid bottom6 energy winger. pic.twitter.com/3WEnEnw3D1
— Andy & Rono (@ARHockeyStats) July 28, 2021
Hextall kicked off Day 2 of Free Agency picking up Danton Heinen to help fill out the bottom 6.
The Penguins signed forward Danton Heinen to a one-year, one-way deal worth $1.1M.
Heinen, 26, scored 7G/7A in 43 games with Anaheim last season
— Taylor Haase (@TaylorHaasePGH) July 29, 2021
Heinen, over his career, has largely eaten up 3rd line minutes, occasionally seeing time on the 2nd line.
Early returns early in his career in Boston saw some primary points flow in, though those have largely dropped off over the last two seasons.
Historically, he’s been a very good defensive forward, especially through the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, but saw a fair drop off in Anaheim this past season, albeit with an increase in offensive impact that wasn’t necessarily there in Boston (outside of the point production rates). Those two seasons saw him score 16 goals and 31 assists and 11 goals and 23 assists respectively. He racked up 12 powerplay points (2 goals) in that 17-18 year, so there’s some skill there.
He’s only entering his age 26 season and, for what he offers, coming in just over $1M is a nice addition. Evolving-Hockey projected him at a 3 year term and just over $2.5M and $1.59M for a 1 year deal.
Systematically in Anaheim, via Corey Sznajder’s work, he appears to be the type of player that creates from his forechecking. Given how much the Penguins love to utilize the forecheck to hammer their opponents, this seems like a player that could fit in nicely in Mike Sullivan’s system.
This space will be updated throughout the day(s) with more information as it trickles in. All data via Natural Stat Trick, Evolving Hockey, and Hockey Viz unless specifically noted. Salary info via Cap Friendly and contract projections via Evolving Hockey.