NHL Free Agency: Roster Vacancies, Pittsburgh Penguins' Prospects Ready for NHL

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NHL Free Agency: Roster Vacancies, Pittsburgh Penguins' Prospects Ready for NHL
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Squeezed by the cap, the Penguins will likely pull talent from within to provide depth for their NHL roster.

In the post-lockout era, the Pittsburgh Penguins have become perennial cap spenders.

Off-seasons in Pittsburgh have become clinics in managerial craftiness, as general manager Ray Shero and company spend the summer months working to acquire depth to compliment the team's core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Last July, Penguins' management broke the piggy bank to upgrade the defense. Free agents Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek were brought on board to replace Sergei Gonchar and Mark Eaton.

With more free agent forwards to pay for than cap space to pay them with, Pittsburgh brass will again look to get creative in forming their roster this summer.

Instead of doing so through free agency, the team may be forced to find depth from within.

The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins led the AHL in regular season wins in 2010-11, and a number of their regulars played admirably at the NHL level when injuries made room for their call-ups through parts of January, February and March.

If Pittsburgh is forced to part with most of its pending free agents, the team will be able to assemble depth without dredging the low-cost end of the free agent pool.

Here's a look at five Penguins prospects who may find themselves with the big club in 2011-12.

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