Off Season 2009: The Penguins Off Season Preveiw
As the party just begins for the players and fans of Pittsburgh expect the men of management to be hard at work.
Despite a huge victory over the thought to be unstoppable Red Wings, the Penguins will look to fix the lines and plug the holes this off season. Expect for a tradition of wining hockey to comeback to the City of Champions.
This offseason will be a tricky one however. With the inner core of Malkin, Crosby, Staal and Fleury locked up for some time, they still need talented skill players to bring out their true potential.
The biggest problem like many teams is lack of cap room. There are big names on this years free agency like Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa and Mats Sudin but bringing in players like this is a stretch if you have already committed $49 million to 14 players.
Its time for the Pens to cut some fat.
Petr Sykora is a hot button issue in Pittsburgh. The people of the Steel City love him for the work he put in developing Evgeni Malkin and his work in the regular season. However, it's time for the Pens to move on. He fell in importance to upper management and hardly produced at the end of the season. This is $2.5 million that can be put elsewhere. Sykora will likely sign for more in the KHL in Russia.
One more year for Bill Guerin is a possibility only if he takes a pay cut. The 38 year old played a major rule in bringing the cup to the Burgh but his $4.5 million sallary is too much and the league's policies with signing veterans like this isnt helping.
Miroslav Satan's career in Pittsburgh is also shaky, and if he leaves as well the Pens are in desperate need of a completely new right wing group.
The list of right wingers available this year is astounding. At the top of the list is; Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, and Martin Havlat. Any of these players would be a pure compliment, however unlikely due to high salary.
There have been rumors coming about with Alex Kovalev, but at 36 and $4.5 million I'd rather have Bill Guerin's chemistry.
The best choice from the top three is Garborik. The Pens were close to trade talk last year, and many thought Staal would be a Wild if he came. His scoring skill with Sid's play making would go well together.
Many think Hossa will come back to Pittsburgh. This is a possibility but unlikely to me. He is looking for a contender offering a long term contract. The Red Wings simply can't afford this. He will float around looking for a home but to me its not in Pittsburgh. He has showed his doubt in this team already and he was made to look like a fool.
The Pens are also looking for a blueliner to boost the team. In the free agent market there are a couple of fits. The top fit is Jay Bouwmeester. He is young at 25, he is mature past his age, and he can put the puck in the net. If signed his high pay would mean the end for Segei Gonchar. That's why a more simple choice is Francois Beauchemin from Anaheim.
Trade talk this off season isn't out of the question either. If its a trade it will make a splash. There is more going on then the management is letting on. One of the first moves the Pens made this off season was signing scoring defensmen Alex Goligoski.
This may foreshadow Gonchar's departure. That $5 million clear out would bring so much relief to our cap room, which is being spent on a easily hurt and aging blueliner.
So where would he go and what is GM Ray Shero looking for?
Shero has spent a lot of time with Atlanta and watching how their team works. The Pens need a winger and its a bit of a stretch but Ilya Kovalchuk may be a Penguin. The Thrashers need to clear out and rebuild and the Pens need a winger (Kovalchuk a left winger would replace Kunitz who's production slipped in the playoffs).
This trade isn't as crazy as it first sounds. The Thrashers could use a veteran Blueliner to add to a group of young players.
Watch for a splash this off season. The Pens are looking for a repeat and to start something special.
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