As the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins begin the series that will crown this season's Stanley Cup Champions, the rest of the league turns part of their attention to free agency. NHL free agency starts July 1, and each team is already making a list and checking it twice.
The Pittsburgh Penguins face many difficult choices as it relates to their own free agents with 10 unrestricted free agent forwards and two restricted free agent forwards. Stanley Cup winning hero Max Talbot is on the list, as are many of the forwards that play a role on the third and fourth lines.
According to "The Sporting News", Pens GM Ray Shero has confirmed that neither Alexei Kovalev nor Mike Comrie will be offered contracts. You can scratch two players off the unrestricted list, then. According to their story, Shero has also not ruled out any of the other players on the internal list.
But what of external candidates? The free agency period of 2011 is exactly what the sports talk show doctors ordered. There is certain to be no shortage of speculation about who the Penguins want to and can add.
If you use the numbers set forth by capgeek.com, the Penguins have just shy of $56,000,000 committed to eight forwards, seven defenseman, and two goalies for the 2011-12 season. At a minimum, they'll need to find four forwards to fill out the roster.
Shortly before the NHL Entry Draft held June 24 and 25, the figures for the upcoming season's salary cap will be announced. The 2010-11 season cap ceiling was at $59,400,000. Forbes.com reports that "NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the Sports Lawyers Association the he expects the salary cap to rise to between $60,500,000 and $63,500,000."
This would give the Penguins around $4,000,000 and $7,000,000 to spend. While not highly likely, a trade also cannot be ruled out though. As usual, we can also expect some draft day deals to alter the course of free agency.
What will the Penguins do? Let's take a look at the 12 guys they should be targeting.