Good signing at a good price. We needed a veteran defensive defenseman badly after losing Scuderi and Gill. We are lucky that he is getting 2/3 of his salary from the Blues because of their buyout, so he would be willing to settle for a 1 year, $800,000 deal. Now we can have a primarily offensive defenseman paired with a primarily defensive defensiveman for all 3 of our defensive pairings. Perhaps something like:
Perhaps Eaton and McKee switch partners...we'll see. This means we do not have to count on Ben Lovejoy to be a starter right off the bat. He can be a 7th defensemen that is able to ease his way into the lineup with spot starts here and there or as an injury fill-in instead of needing him to play every night at this point.
It was interesting that I found out about it by reading Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper while in Montreal with my wife celebrating our 10th anniversary this weekend (actually, our anniversary was in late June instead of mid-July, but the bus trip we wanted to take was a couple of weeks after our actual anniversary, so we delayed our celebration a bit). Montreal was a pretty cool city (I've been to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, and Saint John before, but this was my first time in a French-speaking city). The 30th annual Jazz Festival was there (largest in the world), and we got great seats to see the Brian Setzer Orchestra at Salle Wilfred Pelletier on Friday night. Even though it poured like crazy on Saturday, we were able to duck into a few shops in Old Montreal between downpours, had some poutine in one of the underground malls, and had a great fondue dinner that night. We even stopped in Lake George, NY on the way home, and it was a cool town as well with some specialty shops (had some good pizza and gelato there as well). Sorry for getting off on a tangent here. Back to the McKee signing:
Pittsburgh Penguins Sign Defenseman Jay McKee
Jul 10, 2009, 1:51 PM EDT
The Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins have signed defenseman Jay McKee to a one-year contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero.
McKee, 31, recorded eight points (one goal, seven assists) along with 44 penalty minutes in 69 games with the St. Louis Blues during the 2008-09 season. He finished seventh in the NHL with 185 blocked shots while ranking fourth on the Blues with a plus-eleven rating. McKee played in four playoff contests, helping the Blues in their first playoff appearance since 2004.
“Jay is a strong defensive defenseman who will bring additional experience to our lineup,” Shero said. “He has great size and is an outstanding shot-blocker, and his veteran presence will help in the continued development of our young defensemen.”
The 6-4, 203-pound defenseman has played parts of 13 seasons in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and the Buffalo Sabres. McKee played parts of 10 seasons with the Sabres, tallying 17 goals and 98 points along with 470 PIM in 582 games. He played in 51 playoff games with Buffalo, scoring nine points (three goals, six assists) and 60 penalty minutes, while posting a plus-18 rating. McKee appeared in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final with the Sabres before being eliminated by the Dallas Stars.
The blueliner has appeared in 740 career games in the NHL, collecting 115 points (20 goals, 95 assists) and 568 penalty minutes while recording a plus-49 rating. McKee has tallied three goals and nine points along with 64 penalty minutes in 55 post-season appearances.
The native of Kingston, Ontario was originally a first-round selection (14th overall) of the Buffalo Sabres in the 1995 Entry Draft.
For McKee, it wasn't about the money
By Mike Prisuta, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The first time through unrestricted free agency, Jay McKee went for the money.
This time, the 12-year NHL defenseman had aspirations that transcended economics.
"My main goal, my main hope was to have interest from a team much like the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team with a winning atmosphere, a winning tradition, great management, great owners and great chemistry," McKee said.
McKee's circumstances helped facilitate the agreement he signed with the Penguins on Friday, a one-year deal for $800,000.
Having been bought out of the final year of his four-year, $16 million contract in St. Louis for two-thirds of what was left on paper, McKee already had $2.67 million coming from the Blues.
That kept his demands on a new deal much more in line with what a salary cap-challenged team such as the Penguins was able to pay.
"It's no secret I'm receiving 66 percent of my salary from St. Louis, and that definitely came into play," McKee said. "The dollar amount wasn't as much of a concern as it was the last time I was a UFA."
McKee, 6-foot-4 and 203 pounds, has 20 goals and 115 points in 740 career regular-season games with the Blues and Sabres.
A first-round pick by Buffalo (14th overall) in 1995, McKee has developed into a shot-blocker and a stay-at-home presence who can balance out a defense pairing that includes a younger, more offensively inclined player.
He finished seventh in the NHL with 185 blocked shots in 2008-09.
"We were looking for a certain style of defenseman," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. "Jay was high on our list.
"He's another veteran guy with character."
The Penguins have identified offensively gifted defenseman Alex Goligoski as one of the replacements for free-agent departures Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi.
But Goligoski will need a partner.
"That's a good possibility," Shero said. "We'll leave that to (head coach) Dan (Bylsma)."
Said McKee: "That might be a great combo. I've been used in shut-down roles and with younger players as more of a guy who provides defensive structure. I played with Brian Campbell in Buffalo, and we're complete opposites. I'd be more than pleased to play with whoever they want."
McKee said Blues president John Davidson and general manager Larry Pleau said the buyout occurred because McKee would have been one of three defensemen making $4 million in 2009-10, and the Blues didn't want to tie up $12 million of salary camp space on three players.
McKee, who spent three seasons in St. Louis after nine in Buffalo, said he's healthy again after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
He anticipates becoming a top-six defenseman and a penalty-killer with the Penguins.
"We were third in the league (in penalty-killing at 83.8 percent) in St. Louis," McKee said. "I love the pressure, love the challenge."