After watching Adam Hall, Georges Laraque, Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts and Jarkko Ruutu leave town the last few days, it's more than fair to wonder if the Penguins have lost an edge in terms of how physical they'll be next season. Sure, guys Maxime Talbot, Hal Gill and Brooks Orpik are still around to bang bodies. Eric Godard will fill the role of an enforcer. And Ryan Stone racked up 129 minutes in penalties (on the strength of eight fights) with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season. He'll surely be a player the Penguins will consider bringing up.
But it's undeniable that the Penguins as they're built right now aren't as tough as they were at the end of the past season.
So do the Penguins need to bring in another banger and crasher to spice things up? Here's another quick, hypothetical list of what we would call physical forwards who are unrestricted free agents:
|Player, 2007-08 team||Height, Weight||Notes|
New Jersey Devils
|5-11, 210 lbs.||Asham will mix it up with just about anyone. He'll crash the boards and the nets. He's also one of the NHL's premier cruiserweights along with the likes of Ottawa's Chris Neil or Colorado's Ian Laperriere.|
New York Islanders
|6-0, 210 lbs.||Goes full speed on the forecheck, but his style of play has left him battered. He's only played 50 games the past two seasons.|
|Todd Bertuzzi, Anaheim Ducks||6-3, 245 lbs.||Bertuzzi was the best power forward in the sport a few seasons ago but he's a shell of his former self now. If healthy, he can still be dominant in front of the net. Can tend to be lazy and prone to taking bad penalties.|
|Jesse Boulerice, Philadelphia Flyers||6-2, 215 lbs.||Boulerice will drop the gloves with anyone and will play a team game, but he's a barely a NHL-caliber player.|
|Eric Boulton, Atlanta Thrashers||6-1, 220 lbs.||The definition of a goon. Former Lightning coach John Tortorella once said Boulton belonged in the ECHL. Very undisciplined.|
|Kip Brennan, Atlanta Thrashers||6-4, 222 lbs.||Complete goon who has struggled to stay in the NHL. Recorded 18 fights in the AHL last season.|
|Matt Cooke, Washington Capitals||5-11, 205 lbs.||Cooke is an antagonist the class of a Jarkko Ruutu or Sean Avery and he can kill penalties .|
|Aaron Downey, Detroit
|6-0, 216 lbs.||A banger and crasher who was unofficially undefeated when dropping the gloves according to Hockeyfights.com.|
|Chris Gratton, Tampa Bay Lightning||6-3, 220 lbs.||Has size and knows how to use it. Has a bit of a mean streak. Gratton was always projected as an Eric Lindros type of player, but never lived up to those expectations. Has been fairly durable throughout his career.|
|Brad Isbister, Vancouver Canucks||6-4, 224 lbs.||Isbister will use his size to mix it up in the corners and punish defensemen in the corners on the forecheck. Has struggled to stay in the NHL in recent seasons.|
|Martin Lapointe, Ottawa Senators||5-11, 215 lbs.||Tough and disciplined, Lapointe will go to the net to mess with opposing goaltenders. He can tend to disappear at times.|
|Darren McCarty, Detroit
|6-1, 210 lbs.||He's not nearly as much of a hell-raiser on or off the ice as he was in his younger days. But McCarty will still play physical in the corners and will defend his teammates.|
|Owen Nolan, Calgary Flames||6-1, 205 lbs.||Despite being 36-years old, he plays with reckless abandon. That style tends to wear his body out. Can be a leader in the locker room and is capable of reaching the 20-goal mark. Went 3-0 unofficially in fights last season according to Hockeyfights.com. (Sounds a lot like Gary Roberts).|
|Byron Ritchie, Calgary Flames||5-10, 190 lbs.||A poor man's Maxime Talbot, Ritchie will bang and crash and will drop the gloves with people in his weight class.|
|Andre Roy, Tampa Bay Lightning||6-4, 221 lbs.||Roy is one of the NHL's better enforcers, but he can melt down mentally occasionally. He is familiar with some of the Penguins players such as Sidney Crosby and Maxime Talbot having spent the 2005-06 season here.|
|Brendan Shanahan, New York Rangers
||6-3, 215 lbs.||Despite being on the back nine of his career, he still can play a physical game at times and has dropped the gloves with the likes of Dallas' Steve Ott and Washington's Donald Brashear the past two seasons. Still capable of scoring 20-goals.|
|Josef Vasicek, New York Islanders||6-5, 214 lbs.||Despite his size, doesn't play an overly physical style.|
|Brad Winchester, Dallas Stars||6-5, 215 lbs.||Big body dropped the gloves with some of NHL's better fighters last season such as Boston Milan Lucic and Nashville's Darcy Hordichuk. But didn't fare well in those bouts. Is somewhat undisciplined.|
EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS
-Turns out new Penguins forward Miroslav Satan played with an ankle injury last season.
-Brooks Orpik said the Sabres never made him an offer.
-Which deal has been the best so far for the Penguins? Vote on it here.
-Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were both nominated for the ESPY's. In other news, ESPN still acknowledges hockey.
-Free agent forward Jaromir Jagr reflected on his time with the Rangers.
-The Devils are pursuing Fedorov. Fedor Fedorov.
-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Kurtis McLean signed with the Islanders.
-New Canadiens enforcer and former Penguin Georges Laraque turned down an offer from the Predators.
-Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray actually contacted the Penguins about the availability of Jarkko Ruutu at the trade deadline.
-The Capitals will not be bringing back forward Matt Cooke.
-The Lightning asked their best defenseman, Dan Boyle, to waive his no-trade clause. The Lightning's new owners are trying to deal Boyle despite the fact they encouraged him to sign a six-year, $40 million extension four months ago.
-The Blue Jackets are trying to bring back forward Mike Peca.