Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript: April 25, 2013
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013, 1:14 p.m.
Dejan Kovacevic: Afternoon, all, and a happy Mel Kiper Day. It's that day where we all try to imagine what it'd be like to invest an entire year built around a single weekend ...
Comment From grandpagreg: Can you think of a reason Pascal Dupuis shouldn't be on the power play? He keeps the puck in the offensive zone almost singlehandedly at times, is a good passer, and gets a lot of shots on net.
Dejan Kovacevic: I can think of a bunch of reasons, actually, and not many have to do with Dupuis. In fact, it might end up being Dan Bylsma's defining challenge in these playoffs to figure out how to assign the right guys to the right roles and right units.
Picture having at your disposal Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Jarome Iginla and Kris Letang, then telling everyone else there's no room. That's how it looks right now.
I know this much: Iginla isn't going anywhere off that left side. He's the Penguins' best in that role — right-handed — since 66.
Comment From Johnny Loose: Love your writing style and chats DK. real quick: In two games, (Steelers vs. Bengals), who wins this battle between Big Ben and James Harrison? Escape:Sack ratio. My guess, Ben wins 4:1. I'm an optimist by the way..
Dejan Kovacevic: Neither of those two will decide. That'll be up to either Marcus Gilbert or Mike Adams, whoever Mike Tomlin chooses to man left tackle. Thought it was pretty telling the other day that Tomlin made it abundantly clear he hadn't yet made up his mind. That was a challenge. LT is a premium job — with premium pay — in the NFL. He wants them to gut it out.
That said, I can't imagine it won't be Gilbert. No way you're putting a guy in his first full NFL season as a starter over there to keep your QB's blind side safe.
Comment From JC: Love your work DK. Have a Pens question for you. I'm curious about 66, and how visible he is on a day to day basis. In a year like this when they had so much cap room, would Shero consult with Mario before making all those trades, or does Shero have license to do as he sees fit as long it's within the budget?
Dejan Kovacevic: Ray Shero runs the Pittsburgh Penguins, period, exclamation point. Mario's around, actually more often than not. They talk. They consult. But Ray runs the team. In fact, he runs it far more than most people would imagine. Most involved GM I've ever been around. Nothing he doesn't touch. Nothing he doesn't know.
Here's guessing that's part of why he is who he is in terms of results.
Comment From Justin in Ellwood City: With Iron Man 3 almost upon us, your favorite superhero flick?
Dejan Kovacevic: I loved the Christian Bale Batmans, all three, and we'll never see an individual performance to rival that of Heath Ledger's Joker. But Superman II still stands alone in the iconic sense. Brilliant.
Comment From Dom: Will the Steelers increase their offer for Ahmad Bradshaw if we do not get a RB in the first few rounds of the draft?
Dejan Kovacevic: I'd think so. And if you look at the quality of running back — after Alabama's Eddie Lacy — that seems more likely than not. On one hand, it's telling that Bradshaw is still out there even with a handful of teams having a need. Means they're legitimately scared of that foot. On the other, need is need. If Bradshaw is deemed healthy enough to be a better option than Isaac Redman or Jonathan Dwyer, the Steelers have to get him.
Then again, what if all of this has been a grand Tomlin ruse to rattle Redman and Dwyer?
Don't laugh. He's done that sort of thing.
Comment From theplanisworking: Dejan, putting you on the spot here............. who do the Steelers take #1 tonight? Good Luck on the new TV show.
Dejan Kovacevic: I'm on record as saying I hope they take Lacy. If you're asking who I think they will take, there are tea leaves all over the place that point to Jarvis Jones, the edge rusher out of Georgia. And I'd have no problem with that. My point with Lacy is impact at a vital, visible position that provide a jolt to a team that sure looks like it could use one.
But obviously, if the Steelers deem Jones the better player, that's your choice.
Comment From Lambert: Would you take a chance on Penn State's Mike Mauti late or as a free agent?
Dejan Kovacevic: A thousand times yes. Love Mauti. Love his style. Love his potential. And there's no one who has described Mauti's knee injury as being anywhere near as severe as, say, that of the Steelers' Sean Spence. No reason he shouldn't make a solid recovery. It's scary, sure. As Harrison showed the past couple of years, once they go truly bad, they can be a mess.
But anyone who watches highlights of what Mauti brought to the Nittany Lions this year should be eager to give him a chance.
Comment From Rob judge: Should the Pirates put Pedro Alvarez in verus lefties no matter what and sink or swim? or should they continue to treat this kid gloves?
Dejan Kovacevic: I've been saying for a while — and I'm talking spring training — that Alvarez should be placed at cleanup and left alone. There's not much information to support the idea that where he bats in the lineup is the cause of his protracted slumps. Or streaks, for that matter. If your concern is that Alvarez tightens up with men on base, there is a long, long history going back to Vanderbilt that discredits it.
Now, setting that aside, the Pirates currently are getting a .338 average and good pop out of their cleanup hitters, Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez. That's got to be weighed, too.
Comment From Rob judge: There is some new sports discussion show coming to WPXI. Do you know anything about this? Should i stay up past my bedtime to watch?
Dejan Kovacevic: That's very good, funnyman. But yes, for those who aren't on Twitter and weren't barraged by my promotion of this yesterday, WPXI-TV and the Trib are teaming up for a new Sunday night sports show — The Final Word — that debuts this very Sunday at 11:35 p.m.
And if your bedtime is as lame as Rob's, we'll also offer live streaming and video podcasts for everyone, notably Pittsburgh's out-of-town sports fans.
Comment From Naterosboro: Do the Pirates get it done today against tough LHP Cliff Lee?
Dejan Kovacevic: Roy Halladay and Johnny Cueto doubt it.
Comment From Guest: Hey Dejan ...
Dejan Kovacevic: Jarome Iginla plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Man, lots of Twitter tweeps on here today.
Comment From CJ: DK, what do you think the steelers would do if the OLBs, Patterson, Austin, Eifert and Vaccaro were all gone by 17? Trade down? Reach for Lacy?
Dejan Kovacevic: You're taking a lot of guys off the table there, but I suppose it's possible. Obviously, I like Lacy, so I'll say yes. And it's worth noting that Kevin Colbert said — possibly bluffing — that the Steelers don't intend to trade up in the draft. Again, that could be a bluff. Not sure what he has to gain by telegraphing that, other than to maybe throw someone else off.
Comment From PirateApologist: As scary as the Pirates starting pitching staff looks this year, doesn't next year's staff have the potential to be even worse? A.J. and Wandy, the two best this year, are not guaranteed to be there next year.
Dejan Kovacevic: Well, that's getting ahead of things in a bunch of ways. For one, you don't know that Burnett and/or Rodriguez won't be signed. For another, you don't know who will be running the Pirates, so it's impossible to gauge a future thought process off precedent. And finally, you'd realistically be able to imagine Gerrit Cole and maybe Jameson Taillon being part of things by then.
One thing at a time.
Comment From Jay: Do you get the sense that Ray.Shero will be able to re-sign both Malkin and Letang?
Dejan Kovacevic: Let me put it this way: I don't yet see anything, not even the acquisitions of Iginla and Brenden Morrow, nor the emergence of Dupuis, that would move Malkin and Letang from the top of Shero's priority list. I would think pretty much everyone has learned to stop doubting Shero at this point, but this one has elements that are a little out of his control. Remember, the cap goes down next season.
Comment From Tim: What is Chris Berman's reputation in media circles as of late?
Dejan Kovacevic: I don't know that I can recall ever even hearing a discussion about him. Studio hosts are ... they're not really off in some separate bracket from reporters and the like. It's really apples and oranges.
Comment From KJ: Bucs in April: Over-performing despite pitching, getting Lucky, or showing what kind of team they could be?
Dejan Kovacevic: Any team can get better and solidly so. There's nothing written in stone that a guy today is what he'll be tomorrow. Jeff Locke illustrated that pretty nicely with the best start of his life the other night in Philly. Travis Snider is seen by pretty much the entire baseball world as a fourth outfielder with an uncomfortably long swing, but he's hitting the ball hard. There are other examples.
But even the most advanced of advanced baseball metrics will concede that simple run differential is a powerful measuring tool. The Pirates right now are 12-9, including the current 11-4 tear. But get this: During that 11-4 tear, they've outscored opponents by just 69-56. That's roughly one run per victory.
Now, again, there are exceptions. The Orioles were a golden one last season, defying their run differential all summer long. But it's rare, and it's rare for a reason.
Comment From Mike H: Lacy would be a great fit for the Steelers, but wouldn't it make more sense for steelers to look at running back in the second round?
Dejan Kovacevic: Of course it would, but a lot of people say that as if someone will just be sitting there. The running back pool is not deep. There are reports that Lacy is about it as far as potential impact types. From what I see, you're a lot better off taking that approach to wide receiver and the defensive secondary, which is loaded up and down the class.
Comment From James_Indiana: Bradshaw would be a nice addition, but can the Steelers afford him? They can restructure contracts, but they will eventually have to pay the piper.
Dejan Kovacevic: Bradshaw's still sitting around. They can afford him. Ask James Harrison what it means to still be available right now. He found out the hard way.
Comment From AJ: Speaking of RBs, we should have kept Rashard Mendenhall. Why did the Steelers blackball and outcast him last year? Just because of his big mouth? I guess so. But we desperately needed him. A big opinionated mouth shouldn't matter when you can play football well.
Dejan Kovacevic: I genuinely can't tell: Is this serious?
You are aware Mendenhall blew off a game this season. Yeah, he was hurt, but you don't just pout about and sit home without expecting to be completely ostracized. It's only because Tomlin demanded it — wanted Mendenhall to be available down the stretch — that Mendenhall didn't get publicly trashed by everyone in that room.
He created that, not the Steelers. And good riddance to him.
Comment From Alan Gifford: Any chance Jason Worilds does what has happened every time the Steelers have jettisoned an outside linebacker and surprise us with a lot of sacks. Few thought Harrison would replace Joey Porter.
Dejan Kovacevic: Worilds will get sacks. He was doing that last season, even in limited snaps. That's not his issue. It's that he's been awful against the run. Not bad. Awful. And the way offenses are set up now to gear against the 3-4, you no longer have that Kevin Greene that you can hide on the outside as the one-trick pony. You've got to be able to tackle someone other than the QB.
Comment From Mitch: Shero has proven himself as a great negotiator and deadline dealer. Is there a point where GM's around the league start to shy away from making trades with him?
Dejan Kovacevic: I think they're already a little shy in the sense that they see the results he's gotten. At the same time, any GM anywhere wants to acquire talent. And Shero has talent, in Pittsburgh and in Wilkes-Barre. He's also got a lot of young defensemen, which remain at a premium in the NHL. As long as he has those, his phone will continue to ring.
Comment From g money: Who is the bigger jackass, Mike Milbury or Don Cherry?
Dejan Kovacevic: Don Brennan.
Comment From Pucknutz: With all the talent,depth, veteran leadership, and great goaltending the Pens now have, what if any weakness do you see in the playoff run?
Dejan Kovacevic: There isn't an outright weakness. There just isn't. Let's not pretend there is.
I mean, the team doesn't have that super-mega-Shea-Weber-do-it-all-then-kick-tail defenseman, but not many do. And not having that player is hardly a weakness.
Comment From Guest: What has the best Team President in MLB been up to — haven't heard much from him? Still doing his Fireside Chat series with the public?
Dejan Kovacevic: Not getting into the circus nonsense anymore. Let them win, or let them get fired. That's all.
Comment From Guest: You have stated in numerous chats now - “you don't know who will be running the Pirates then”, so - what is the % likelihood that Huntington & Coonelly are employed by the Pirates at the start of the 2014 season?
Dejan Kovacevic: According to Bob Nutting — not me — the Pirates must contend for a playoff spot through September. That's his bar. I'll assume he didn't set it for show.
Comment From Jay: So, reading between the lines to your answer of my previous question, Malkin is a lock to re-sign no matter what, and if there isn't enough cap space, Letang would be the odd man out, is that correct?
Dejan Kovacevic: Nothing to read between the lines there. Malkin is the priority. That's a no-brainer.
Comment From AJ: You're around the team more so I trust your “and good riddance to him” and “he created that” But when he blew off that game it was already after he became the locker room outcast.
Dejan Kovacevic: False.
Comment From Guest: If you were forced to make a strategic GM hire and your only two choices were - Dave Littlefield & Neal Huntington - who would it be?
Dejan Kovacevic: Cam Bonifay.
Comment From Napper: Best guess for 1st round matchup, Jets, Sens, or Rangers?
Dejan Kovacevic: Well, for my own personal travel delights, it would obviously be the first of those. But Winnipeg needs an almost impossible set of events in order to quality now. From there, I'll go with Ottawa as the best matchup, primarily because Henrik Lundqvist is, to my mind, the only goaltender in the Eastern Conference currently capable of stealing an entire series by himself.
Comment From Jason: Did Crosby do enought to hold on to the Hart Trophy?
Dejan Kovacevic: I think so, though you can sense a lot of push now for both Alexander Ovechkin and John Tavares. Both have been just magnificent in the second half, but I'd lean toward Tavares if it were just between those two. Ovechkin was a barking dog for the first half of the season for the Capitals. Tavares has been there from Day 1 for the Islanders.
Still, what Crosby was doing was truly special. He'll get at least one vote, for sure.
Dejan Kovacevic: Couple more today ...
Comment From Jason: I understand the Pens are stacked and were pretty stacked before the trade deadline, but why no love for Bylsma for the Jack Adams Award?
Dejan Kovacevic: He's just oozing with talent to coach, so that won't help. The name that gets mentioned most is Michel Therrien, but the Canadiens are really fading of late. That won't help. Claude Noel has done an excellent job in Winnipeg, but not making the playoffs would kill that.
My choice, by a mile, is Todd Richards in Columbus.
How in the world is that team doing what they're doing?
Comment From Crankshaft: When I get eat more people?
Dejan Kovacevic: Tonight, Dougie. Down, boy.
Comment From Rooney U: I think this is the most important draft of Colbert's career and he knows it. Would be great if he could it a grand slam like Jerry Reese did with the Giants a few years back when they won the Super Bowl. The future of this team depends on it.
Dejan Kovacevic: An impossible point to dispute, and a perfect way to finish.
Thanks to all for participating!
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