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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript: June 28, 2012

| Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 3:09 p.m.

Dejan Kovacevic: Afternoon, all, and welcome! Much to discuss today, so ...

jzpenguin: Darren Drager is reporting the Pens will announce a new 10 year $100+M contract for Crosby this weekend. Are you hearing similar things?

Dejan Kovacevic: Dreger is among the more reputable reporters in the hockey business and, given the direct pipeline to info that he and others in the national and Canadian media are uniquely afforded by the league and union offices, there's NO reason to doubt what he tweeted within the past half-hour.Sounds like it could be a rather large weekend for the Penguins.

Hock Kee: How will Sid's purported new contract help the team in it's future planning?

Dejan Kovacevic: For those who haven't seen the terms Dreger was given, he reported an average annual value of $9 million though no year count. You've got to think 10 is the range, given the last carrot offered to Jordan Staal.If it's 10/90, then you're looking at a situation where Evgeni Malkin probably would need to agree to be in the same range for Ray Shero to continue to build around them. That could start this weekend, of course, with Zach Parise and/or Ryan Suter. The biggest help: The Penguins would now have a far firmer grasp on their long-term budget. GMs love that. Assistant GMs -- the guys who do the cap work -- love it even more.

Todd: What realistic chance do the Penguins have of trading Paul Martin and signing either Parise or Suter ?

Dejan Kovacevic: Shero claims he can trade Martin, despite his dismal play and $15 million remaining over the next three years, and there have been at least two reports I've seen out of other cities that suggest it's possible. In my eyes, if you're talking about Parise AND Suter, you don't get that done without moving Martin. Having $15 million in cap room won't cut it.And hey, now as I think of it ... Sunday?Who announces major internal signings on the first day of free agency if that happens to fall on a Sunday?Maybe something else is afoot.

Ryan: If Dreger's report is ture, around 9 mil a year cap hit, Sid is giving a HUGE hometown discount. Says alot about how much Sid wants to win. Do you think this type of discount will help them get Parise? (Suter is not signing with the Pens)

Dejan Kovacevic: There would be a discount in play there, for sure. I'm not comfortable portraying it as some epic sacrifice, if the individual max is around $10M or so in the new labor pact. But yeah, unquestionably, it's a sign that Crosby's priority is another Cup. No other way to read it.Also, this might make a good time to reiterate -- and I've written this a lot in the past year, so I apologize for the repeat -- but that kid loves this franchise and this team. He never had any intention of going anywhere else, no matter what you might have heard and read. And shame on all of those people, including a small handful inside the organization, who doubted that.Crosby is about as Penguin as you get.

PirateApologist: I am surprised that the Moskos relase hasn't gotten more attention than fans. Next to drafting him, this might be the next strangest thing that they have done with him. Are Fryer and Navarro more valuable to the franchise?

Dejan Kovacevic: First, Daniel Moskos wasn't released. Not yet, anyway. He was designated for assignment, meaning a team has 10 days to trade, waive or release that player. Now, listening to Clint Hurdle's assessment of Moskos in the Trib today, it sure sounds like they're going to let him walk. Not certain what you'd find bizarre about that. Moskos is 26, not a kid anymore, and he'd clearly fallen out of the organization's graces with an ERA close to 4.00 in Indy.What IS strange, I'll grant you, is the nature of some of the names still on the 40-man. But maybe that will play out a little more in the coming days.

Frank: Think the Altoona manager might've gotten a call from the 'Burgh about his delay in pulling Cole after the line drive off the head???

Dejan Kovacevic: P.J. Forbes is a trusted man within the Pirates organization. Anyone who's seen the video of Gerrit Cole being struck in the head by that liner -- it's not recommended -- can see Forbes sprinting to the mound. When Cole propped himself up, according to the Altoona Mirror, he said he was fine and wanted to stay in. He finished the inning, then was taken out.Baseball people will tell you that the greatest long-term trauma of an incident like that is that the pitcher can become gun-shy. Assuming Forbes and the medical people on the scene in Harrisburg were fully comfortable Cole could resume for a little bit, I'd guess there are plenty of those baseball people who thought it was right of Forbes to allow Cole to get right back on the horse.Bottom line: The kid's fine. And from the few conversations I've had with him, he'll be fine in the long term. Tremendous makeup.

@king1305: DK, Did the Tabata extension take away any remaining options he had? Can the Pirates send him to AAA without risking losing him, or would it need to be an "injury" situation ala Alvarez last season where he spends the full alottment at Indy "rehabbing"?

Dejan Kovacevic: Whatever happens with Jose Tabata, it just might need to happen in Indy.When Tabata went on that 7-for-19 roll through Baltimore and Cleveland, I drove up to the latter to write a column about Tabata's importance to the team, as well as his incessant self-torment and how it affects his play. Well, it looks like that kicked right back into effect over the past week.It isn't helping the player or the team right now to have him in the majors, and I know the Pirates are thinking the same thing. Just click on that column link to see what Clint Hurdle told Tabata the last time.

Eric: If they sign Parise...what type of defensmen will the pens sign to replace Z?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'm not sure they need to do that at all. Maybe a couple veteran types, the usual Gilbert Delorme guys who battle for No. 7. But I'll take my chances with the young guys they have. I've been pushing Simon Despres pretty hard going back to January, and there isn't a reason to stop. Despres could be that guy who pairs with Letang and maybe offers some ranginess in addition to being an offensive complement.As for Z, sorry, addition through subtraction. Same goes for Martin.

John: If I am Ray Shero and I am pretty sure that Suter is going to Detroit or some other Western Conference team and am unsure if Parise will stay with the Devils, be lured to Minnesota or be lost to another team in a bidding war, I trade for Bobby Ryan now. Use Depres, Tangradi and a #1 to get him (if that is enough).

Dejan Kovacevic: Bobby Ryan's made it clear to a lot of people he wants to play in Philadelphia. You want to give up all that to have him pine for the Flyers?

joe: coming in that crosby signed for identical 8.7 cap hit. 12 years 104.4 million

Dejan Kovacevic: Obviously, I haven't seen anything since I've been on here with you guys. If that's accurate, well yeah, that's as close as you come to a sacrifice at that level of income. He's basically accepting no raise for the duration of his career.Like I said ...

K from cal: Phelps lochte coughln Katie Hoff. Amanda beard The greatest athletes of the olympics Agreed?

Dejan Kovacevic: Overall, out of any country? No, that's Usain Bolt hands-down. If you mean just the U.S., I got the sense at the Olympic media summit in Dallas last month that this could be Ryan Lochte's Olympics. We'll see. The other guy still has something left.

Tim in Ky: DK - any clues as to what else (if anything) Marte needs to do to get a call?

Dejan Kovacevic: Honestly, it's getting harder to understand. Readers who remember my trip to Indy earlier in the month -- and the column that followed -- know I've backed the Pirates' stance on Starling Marte. Their patience with HIS patience at the plate has been exactly the right call. But all the kid's done is to keep hitting since then, while also drawing nine walks and waiting out pitches to drive deep in counts.Whether Tabata or Alex Presley are doing well or not, Marte is looking like he belongs.

Isaac: Hey Dejan, big fan of all your work. But what do you think the chances are of seeing Joe Morrow getting any kind of NHL action this year? Assuming Martin stays on the team and Suter is not signed.

Dejan Kovacevic: Very slim. The other day at the draft, Ray Shero mentioned three D-men he thought were on the cusp of contributing: Despres, Robert Bortuzzo and Brian Strait. Not a peep about Morrow or Scott Harrington.And really, that's not Ray's way, anyway. He loves to see those guys put the time in at Wilkes-Barre. Maybe the best Morrow and Harrington can hope is to sign up for the AHL and break through from there.

Ryan: Crosby's agent (Brisson) just told Lebrun that it's 12yrs. 104.4 mil. 8.7 mil cap hit. WOW.

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, there you go. Pat Brisson telling Pierre LeBrun is about as good as you get.I'll share your WOW sentiment, but I'll also repeat that the timing here is no accident. The Penguins and Crosby could have announced this at any time. They wanted it out before Sunday for a reason.Hello, Zach?

bjm: think they give Geno the same number of years?

Dejan Kovacevic: Sounds like a perfect model to follow. If you aren't going to top Sid's average salary, the best move is to match Sid's guaranteed dollars. There might be other players in the NHL making more per year, but there probably will be very, very few touching those guaranteed dollars.

Steely McBeam: Ziggy Hood has been putting in a ton of work in the weight room this summer. I think he's poised for a breakout year and can be a phenomenal- Aaron Smith type gap control DE. Thoughts?

Dejan Kovacevic: Ziggy certainly sounded like a determined individual during minicamp, and there's no diminishing his importance to the Steelers' D. If you go back to that New England game that I always cite for what this group looks like at its peak, Ziggy was the one clearing everyone out for LaMarr Woodley to go nuts in the Patriots' backfield. The two were pretty much glowing afterward about how well they worked together on that left side.Gap control?Still need to see much, much more of that before you start citing Smith.But there's already something there in the area of pass rush.

With that, it's the Tampa Bay Lightning round. Short Qs, short As ...

Ron: If the Pens can find a taker for Martin, who do you see on the Pens' blue line this season?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yes.Sorry, what was the question?

Polka: Did Jagr burn his last bridge last year, or is there a chance he plays his final season here. A top six of: Sid, Geno, Neal, Kunitz, Parise and #68?

Dejan Kovacevic: No Jagr, no chance, no way, no how.

Jake: Now that Sandusky is behind bars... what are your thoughts on PSU and the football program moving forward. How will this effect O'Brien and his team?

Dejan Kovacevic: It won't affect Bill O'Brien at all. Had breakfast with him a couple days before the Super Bowl in Indy, and was immensely impressed with how he handled questions on the topic. "That wasn't us. We weren't there." Sure, there are a couple holdover assistants, but there is ZERO indication they had ANY awareness or involvement.

pens: From talking to Geno, do you think he would accept a similar offer as Sid's?

Dejan Kovacevic: He brought it up only briefly in Vegas last week. Just smiled and said, "I hope they sign me, too," after saying he hoped Staal would stay.

Ronaldo: More painful to watch, Devils vs Panthers or Spain vs Portugal?

Dejan Kovacevic: Easy, Devils-Panthers. I actually found the Spain-Portugal match to be really entertaining until they were forced to decide with with the usual randomness/luck of penalties.

Ben: Does Parise end up in the 'burgh?

Dejan Kovacevic: I think so. A lot of this is starting to look way too obvious, don't you think?

Jeremy: Italy or Germany ?

Dejan Kovacevic: Germany is deeper and more aggressive.

Albert: When do you think the Pirates will free Rudy Owens?

Dejan Kovacevic: A little surprised it hasn't happened already. Funny thing is, every time you think Kevin Correia is about to pitch his way out of the rotation, he has one of those six-inning, three-run, whatever starts that keep him in.I know what I DON'T want: Brad Lincoln as a starter. Anyone who watched him last night should know why he belongs in the pen.

Terry Hanratty: What do you think of the Steelers picking up Colt McCoy if released by the Browns? It is time for Charlie Batch to move on.

Dejan Kovacevic: That's very interesting, depending on the cap hit. Not wild about having the two old, injury-prone guys as Ben's backups. One, yes. Not two.

Ben: Who will play on Crosby's wings this year?

Dejan Kovacevic: Dupuis and, um, Parise?Let's put it this way: I'll be really surprised if it's Steve Sullivan, even if Sullivan returns.

PirateApologist: Your opinion - #HistoryWillBeMade Yes or no?

Dejan Kovacevic: Still no. Sorry. Show me a new bat, and I'll stay open-minded.

Battleship Kelly: Do you like the Pens move to Cranberry for their new practice facility? Why not where the Civic Arena stood?

Dejan Kovacevic: I do not. I'd actually heard at one point that this was the plan, to have it right across the street. But it sure sounds like the corporate sponsor UPMC had a lot more to do with this than the Penguins genuinely wanting to be all the way out in Cranberry.

Guest: Thoughts on Bradley, Paterno, etc. after hearing the case? Despicable human beings for not confronting Sandusky?

Dejan Kovacevic: Going to wait for federal investigation of Penn State involvement to get too solid there.

Guest: Why a lot longer leash with Tabata than Presley? Presley at least has some aspects of his game that are appealing, namely "pop" and speed...

Dejan Kovacevic: Tabata is seen as having more natural talent, especially with the bat. That hasn't been on display, of course, except in short spurts.

mjp1542: Took zero abuse from Phillies fans wearing black and gold last night. Have they gone soft? Will Crosby sweaters be welcome at the CoreStates/First Union/Wachovia/Wells Fargo Center now?

Dejan Kovacevic: Baseball's a different crowd. No, they haven't gone soft.Did you try standing up and taunting them when Drew Sutton was raking all over their team?Maybe that would gotten a reaction.

dillonerd: Any new restaurants downtown I should try?

Dejan Kovacevic: Two words: Market Square.It's become amazing.

Guest: Steelers - most talent laden roster in the NFL? Top 5?

Dejan Kovacevic: It's top five only if you believe in Isaac Redman as a feature back. Such a key position, such a little-known commodity. But the QB, receivers, tight end and a good chunk of the D ... yeah.

Guest: Is Sutton that good of a hitter, or just appear that way after watching the Bucs hitters struggle for most of the year? In a small sample, he appears to be a better switch-hitter than Walker...

Dejan Kovacevic: You mean tiny sample. As I wrote a month ago , when the Pirates first sent Sutton to the Rays in what's a common gesture among GMs to not let older minor-leaguers get blocked, Sutton came with pedigree at a younger age but never really met it. His overall numbers, especially in the past three years, don't get anyone excited. But Neal Huntington repeated Sunday that this was a player the Pirates liked all winter and see as still having potential.We'll see. Sutton started off on fire for Tampa, then fell off.

Biz: Dejan, just wondering how the blog upgrade is coming along?

Dejan Kovacevic: Got delayed because of us changing to a whole new system for print and web, but still very much in the works.One more today ....

Guest: Philly series has been an embarrassment - baserunning gaffes, missed signs, physical (inability to get down key beunts) and mental errors? Hurdle getting too much of a pass b/c of the record/pitching?

Dejan Kovacevic: That's a fair criticism, both of Hurdle and of myself. I haven't focused much at all on the baserunning, the failure to catch stealing and fundamentals like that. Last piece I wrote on it was back in spring training. I'll have to put it back on the plate.

Polka: How about you stick around and live chat the Pirates game with us?

Dejan Kovacevic: Ha! No, thanks, man. Have the Friday column to finish, and I'm still tragically caffeine-free.

bucsfaninhershey: rarely hear anyone say what a steal JMac was for Dotel...not all of Neal's trades are bad!

Dejan Kovacevic: Now THAT'S credit I've given many, many times over. Including in a column just last month.That's it for this week. Thanks to all for participating.The columns run Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The chat is every Thursday. And the blog is so tireless it could out-kick both Spain and Portugal even if the game went on for eight hours.

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