Enjoying a breakout season at age 28, many believed Pittsburgh Penguins forward Ivan Rodriguez had positioned himself perfectly to hit the open market this summer. A center who has been good in his own end, Rodriguez has finally found offensive success, making him a true two-line forward and a perfect fit in almost any team’s middle-six. Given the Penguins’ cap situation and the need to re-sign Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Rickard Rakell, Rodriguez appears rich in resources to stay with the club and could potentially move on to a payday elsewhere. However, more than two weeks into free agency, Rodriguez has registered very little buzz around his name. After a season with 19 goals and 24 assists, it’s amazing to have Rodriguez without a bite, at least as far as we know.
Before this season, Rodriguez’s previous career best in points was 25, which came in 48 games with the Buffalo Sabers in 2017-18, the same point pace as this season. That season was the forward’s first two-year contract with a $650K AAV. In the year In 2018-19, Rodriguez took a step back, hitting a then-high 29 points, but did so in 74 games. An RFA, Rodriguez was awarded a $2MM salary through arbitration for the 2019-20 season. After that winter 2019 arbitration award, Rodriguez struggled to rebound, recording just 24 points in 80 games between the Buffalo Sabers and Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. This year, however, Rodriguez has shown that he can be the player he was in 2017-18 by 43 points.
So, the question remains: What is driving Rodriguez’s market? Sure, he’s not exactly his teammate Sidney Crosby, but he’s shown he has a lot to offer. One concern is that, over six seasons of regular season NHL play, the Patriots have only matched their 2021-22 output once, that 2017-18 season. Another concern is consistency. Looking closer at this season, Rodriguez was a borderline superstar, scoring 32 of his 43 points in 46 games before the All-Star break. He dominated the first half and only gave up 11 points in 36 games after the break.
Rodriguez’s pros and cons provide a basis for negotiation, but still don’t have an answer to why he’s on the market? The answer is that Rodriguez recently turned 29 and may be coming off his best season to date. He may see this as a good opportunity to secure a very attractive time and salary contract and refuse to compromise on either side. From a front office perspective, Rodriguez has shown flashes of being a 40-point or maybe 50-point player, but absent some stellar stretches, he’s mostly a 25-30 point player. Given the problems 32 teams are facing and finding statistically consistent players in the free agent and trade markets, teams are tired of giving Rodriguez what he needs (time and salary) without knowing what type of player he is. it is.
2021-22: 82 GP, 19-24-43, +3 Level, 14 PM, 243 Shots, 59.8 CF%, 15:50 ATOI
Career: 316 GP, 53-76-159, -30 Rating, 77 PM, 701 Shots, 53.7 CF%, 14:24 ATOI
Even if the market is slow and he doesn’t land the deal he was hoping for, Rodriguez shouldn’t have an issue finding a suitor when he and his team are ready. Rodriguez has been impressive in the first half of this year, but a player who has spent most of his career as a reliable two-way, bottom-six center who can provide a spark of offense is always in demand. From title contenders to middle of the pack teams to rebuilders.
How long the veteran’s contract is expected to be and how much, if he’s willing to settle, will determine which teams may be in the market for him. His ability and ability to play alongside the likes of Crosby, Malkin and Letang as a perennial contender shows Rodriguez can handle the pressure of bright lights and play-and-win games. Contending teams like the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, or the Penguins could use another forward, but those teams are all close unless the salary cap runs out. Cap.
Teams like the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks who are trying to get out of the salary cap or are trying to get out could be options for Rodriguez, all of whom not only can pay, but want to pay for their own reasons. . While they may not be the most attractive options, they could give Rodriguez a wider role, value his leadership and give him more opportunities to repeat his offensive production. The Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders and Calgary Flames, who could use another secondary scoring option and have the cap space to make a strong offer, could also be strong options for Rodriguez, the best of both worlds in terms of contract and competition in those destinations.
In early July, Rodriguez was ranked 24th. There, we reviewed a three-year, $3MM AAV contract with the Minnesota Wild. The Wild could be a good deal for Rodriguez, but at this point, it’s unlikely he’ll get the contract we’re projecting for him with a contending team like the Wild, Islanders, Flames, Oilers, Rangers or Penguins. Of these mentioned above. But if a contract along those lines becomes a sticking point, it may not be out of the question for a team like the Ducks, Coyotes or Blackhawks to bet on Rodriguez’s production and asset value and make an offer. on the way. Finally, given his career track record, it’s still unlikely that the 29-year-old will head to PTO in training camp, even if it means taking an offer that won’t be taken lightly.