2011 NHL Free Agency: More Questions Than Answers for Pittsburgh Penguins

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2011 NHL Free Agency: More Questions Than Answers for Pittsburgh Penguins
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Ray Shero has been one of the league's best salary cap navigators and faces more challenges as the Pens look to fill a handful of roster spots with only a little money left.

As the Pittsburgh Penguins try to build for another run at the Stanley Cup, they'll be met with uncertainty in a number of key areas.

General Manager Ray Shero has more than a few roster spots to fill before the beginning of training camp. He also has a number of pending free agents to try to lure back to Pittsburgh or cut ties with before July 1.

Of those players on the roster at the end of last year, only eight are signed into next season. The only right winger among them is Eric Tangradi, who may have spent the entire previous season in AHL Wilkes-Barre, if not for injury.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the Penguins have 17 players signed next season and $55 million committed to them. Unless the salary cap increases from its current $59.4 million ceiling, the Penguins will have less than $5 million to fill four starting roster spots—to speak nothing of bench players.

Of course, there remains the lingering questions of the long-term health of players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Dustin Jeffrey, three centers who endured a severe concussion and a pair of knee surgeries, respectively.

The NHL entry draft is set to take place June 24, and the team will have to decide what kind of player to take with the 23rd overall pick. The power play is also in need of attention, as well as the possible exit of Tony Granato, who should get more than a few looks as a potential head coaching candidate over the summer.

Ray Shero has more questions to address than we can ask in a day. We'll stop at 10 and just five for tonight.

The second half of the 10-pack comes Friday.

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