NHL Free Agents 2012: Which Pittsburgh Penguin Free Agents Stay and Go?

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NHL Free Agents 2012: Which Pittsburgh Penguin Free Agents Stay and Go?
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Can the Penguins re-sign Chris Kunitz?

For all intents and purposes, the Pittsburgh Penguins are done with the Free Agency period for 2011. The guys you see or do not see on the roster, make up the version of the team for the upcoming season.

If you are like me, you no doubt have already played the 2011-12 season out in your mind (great to see Crosby lift the Cup again huh?) and are thinking about next offseaon's Free Agent class.

There are not a large group of Free Agent's, but some will require tough decisions and could have a real impact on the makeup of this team.

For all contract information and salary cap numbers, I am using the fine work from Cap Geek. They break it all down, so if you are every curious on a situation for any team and the Cap, try them out first.

According to that site, after the 2011-12 season Chris Kunitz, Steve Sullivan, Arron Asham, and Brent Johnson are Unrestricted Free Agents. James Neal, Eric Tangradi, and Matt Niskanen will be Restricted Free Agents.

There are no guarantees that the NHL Salary Cap will rise heading in to the 2012-13 Season, though it does seem largely possible. On the surface, that makes signing Free Agents easier, but as we witnessed this past offseason teams can offer more money or years as happened with Max Talbot and Mike Rupp.

Another thing to keep in mind is the indication by Josh Yohe of Trib Total Media that GM Ray Shero's main priority will be opening up the deals of both Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal next summer to sign them to long-term extensions.

It is very likely that Sid and Jordan may take less than full market value, but you cannot expect that of either of them. They both have a right to make as much money as someone is willing to pay them.

Luckily, from a Penguins fans' standpoint, these guys have shown themselves time and time again to be committed to the Penguins, the city of Pittsburgh, and making sure that the team has a shot at the Stanley Cup each and every season they suit up.

With all of that being said, who will stay and who will go? Only time will tell. But until July 1, 2012 there is not anything wrong with a little speculation on our parts.

After all, there still is a long time between now and the first drop of the puck in Vancouver October 5, 2011. Also, let us hope for labor peace that allows for Free Agency next summer in the first place! On to the slides!

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