Since returning home from my week-long vacation last night, I realized that I had a lot of things to catch up on. So, this is the basic recap of the continuing saga that is the Penguins' offseason.
First, Brooks Orpik has rejected the Penguins' contract offer. Orpik's agent, Lewis Gross, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that "we did receive an offer, which we turned down. But, we're still talking."
Orpik is suspected to be seeking a contract of over $3 million when he hits the open market on July 1. Hopefully, the Penguins can come up with an offer close to that, or Brooks might be heading to Buffalo to play with his little brother who is a prospect in the Sabres system. Not to mention, the Orpik brothers grew up in a Buffalo suburb.
The Penguins also found out this past week that their new salary cap for the 2008-09 season will be set at $56.7 million, a $6.4 million increase from last season.
WWGRD? Apparently not return to Pittsburgh.
You can deal with the possibility of losing Hossa, Orpik, and Malone before the start of next season. You can deal with the possibility of the Penguins not being able to re-sign Jordan Staal after this coming season. But the fact that Gary Roberts will no longer be playing hockey in Pittsburgh... that's just killer news.
Roberts' agent said that the 42-year old grizzled vet plans to continue his career next season, just not in Pittsburgh. Roberts realizes that Ray Shero "has a number of items on his agenda that would take priority."
It's been a great experience watching Gary Roberts on the ice, and one that will not soon be forgotten by Pens fans. WWGRD became not just a saying, but rather, a way of thinking, a way of doing.
Wherever Gary moves on to, it will be hard not to get a little excited when he crashes into the corner and lays out Sergei Gonchar with that stiff body check at some point during next season.
Another Penguin, well, former Penguin, is leaving as well. Not leaving Pittsburgh, not even just leaving his city, but leaving the country all together.
Martin Straka has decided to leave the New York Rangers and return to the Czech Republic to take a position as both a player and sports director for HC Lasselsberger Plzen.
"Speed Racer", as he was known in Pittsburgh, was a very entertaining player to watch on the ice, but his production has fell off since he left the 'Burgh. Best of luck to Marty, and watch out for those weight benches.
Another big blow was delivered to the Penguins' offseason plans when Marian Hossa declined the Penguins' initial offer and decided to wait until July 1 before considering any offers from any team, including the Penguins.
Hossa's agent told the media that "Pittsburgh is still the highest on our list, but we will wait until July 1."
The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers are among several teams that have shown interest in acquiring Hossa once free agency begins.
Finally, the Penguins acquired four new prospects at the NHL Draft last week.
They selected centerman Nathan Moon, 120th overall. Perhaps the biggest positive about Moon is that he brings something to the team that the Penguins really lack, a right-handed shot.
Although Moon probably won't hit the ice in the NHL for at least a couple of years, he looks to have the raw talent that, with a little coaching, could blossom into the skill-set of a top six forward.
The Penguins selected two goaltenders with the number 150 and 180 picks.
From Evgeni Malkin's former team in Magnitogorsk, Russia, the Penguins picked up Alexander Pechurski. 30 picks later, they drafted Patrick Killeen from Brampton of the OHL.
With their final pick, they drafted Nicholas D'Agostino, 210th overall.
It was a busy week for the Penguins, and July 1 is approaching very quickly. Stay tuned...
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