Rob Scuderi Signs With Kings, And You Will Never Hear His Name Again

I really like Rob Scuderi. His contributions to the Pens’ 2009 Cup Run were absolutely irremovable, if unquantifiable, and he rose to the occassion as the Pens’ most consistent blueliner against elite opposition at a time when the rest of the Penguins’ defensive corps was anything but reliable.

That being said, there was no way the Penguins were going to match the L.A. Kings’ 4 year, $13.6 million offer for Scuderi, nor should they have; Scuderi is a solid but utterly replacable player, and in current NHL salary-cap economics, doling out a $3.4 million annual cap hit for four years on a 30-year-old who before March of this year was viewed as no better than a 4th or 5th defenseman with zero offensive skills is severely inadvisable.

Remember how irreplacable Brooks Orpik seemed after the ’08 Cup run, particularly after all the stupid contract-inflating sportswriter columns about “The Shift?” The Pens ended up signing him to a 6-year deal that certainly doesn’t look painful now but also doesn’t seem entirely necessary; that’s the inflated price you’ll always have to pay for a player entering UFA status off the best two months of hockey they’ve ever played. Rob Scuderi is an ok NHL defenseman, but even excepting the Pens’ cap situation, he’s simply not worth that much money.

The St. Louis Blues made a mistake when they envisioned Jay McKee — a 28-year-old defensive defenseman coming off his most prominent season in 2006 — as the instant answer to all their defensive woes, signing him to a 4-year, $16 million contract that ended up being a disaster and which was recently cut short with a buyout. I surely wish Scuderi more success in L.A. than McKee had with the Blues, but the situations aren’t entirely dissimilar; Scuderi is two years older than McKee was at the time, both had showed little indication of offensive ability, and Scuderi’s reputation was largely bolstered by his team’s strong season in his UFA year (McKee’s Sabres won 52 games and fell a game short of the Cup Finals in ’06.)

Different situation, different results? Maybe. But I’ll happily allow another team to pay Scuderi’s contract while we find out.

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One Response to “Rob Scuderi Signs With Kings, And You Will Never Hear His Name Again”

  1. Russell Lucas Says:

    I think the Scuderi and McKee comparison is right on. It’s definitely true that Scuderi’s value increased by being part of a blueline corps that’s pretty good, all things considered. On the Penguins he doesn’t have to be a minutes-eater like Gonchar, or the physical presence of Orpik, or the points-producer that Gonchar and Letang are. The expectations figure to be higher when he goes to a Kings team that can’t play defense.

    And we might get to see what kind of rebound season McKee can turn in if he slots into Scuderi’s place, provided he can be persuaded to sign for cheap to rehabilitate his reputation while still spending that St. Louis buyout dough.

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