PITTSBURGH (93-7 the Fan) -NHL Network Analyst and former Calgary General Manager Craig Button joined “The Cook and Poni Show” on Wednesday to talk about the offseason moves for the Pittsburgh Penguins thus far.
“They are going to be really challenged to come close to where they were last year,” Button said. “The Pens have taken a real step backwards.”
The Pens have traded Neal to Nashville for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Yesterday, they signed free agents: defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, goalie Thomas Greiss and forward Blake Comeau. The Pens also signed free agent Steve Downie on Wednesday to a one-year deal.
Button said the Pens lost a real threat in James Neal and even though many feel they got a good deal getting two players for one, he says they lost the best player.
He also thinks the moves that Pens General Manager Jim Rutherford has made are good, but not enough to make up from the talent lost in Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik and Neal.
Button did admit that the Pens were handcuffed and were unable to take part in the monopoly money thrown around on day one of free agency. But, he also thinks that some of the deals were stunners like the five-year, $27 million deal the Washington Capitals gave former Penguin Brooks Orpik.
“It still doesn’t surprise me because it happens every year,” Button said. “There will be a whole number of players being bought out not only next year, but for years to come because of what happened yesterday.”
Button also says he really likes the Pens’ first round pick Kasperi Kapanen. He doesn’t think he is anywhere close to being ready for the NHL after it was suggested by the Rutherford today on The Fan that he would be given a chance to make the team.
“I would be happy to be wrong, but he is not ready for the NHL,” Button said. “He needs to build up confidence to play in the NHL. He could fast track it and like I said, I would be happy to be wrong, but I don’t think I will be. I love him. He is a terrific player. He is a terrific prospect. Prospect. His best years are going to occur in his 20s.”