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Sign or Let Walk: Pens Free Agent Analysis

Posted By Black&Yellow On Jun 16 2010 @ 5:40 pm In Pittsburgh Penguins | 21 Comments

Currently signed players through 2010-2011 season include: (according to CapGeek [1])

Sidney Crosby $8.7M
Evgeni Malkin $8.7M
Marc-Andre Fleury $5.0M
Jordan Staal $4.0M
Brooks Oprik $3.75M
Chris Kunitz $3.725M
Kris Letang $3.5M
Alex Goligoski $1.83M
Pascal Dupuis $1.4M
Max Talbot $1.05M
Eric Tangradi $845,833
Mike Rupp $825,000
Eric Godard $750,000
Tyler Kennedy $725,000
Brent Johnson $600,000
Craig Adams $550,000

This totals $45,954,166.
That leaves approximately $10,845,834-$12,845,834 because the cap should increase about $2M.

Sergei Gonchar: The re-signing of Sarge is a very touchy subject amongst Pens fans. Part of the inconsistency of the team was because Gonchar was inconsistent. The aging 36-year old has played in a little over half of the Pens regular season games over the past 2 years. Although he is a great Power Play quarterback, the team didn’t have success while he was in the lineup last year. Part of the problem is too many quarterbacks on the Power Play. QB Sarge at the point, QB Malkin at the top of the circle, QB Crosby down below. Let the best play maker in hockey run the PP and say goodbye to #55. This would free up about $5M for a top free agent.

Alexei Ponikarovsky: Ray Shero finally failed on a deadline acquisition. The “scoring winger” notched 3 goals in 27 games with the Penguins and seemed invisible at most times. Shero saw something in Poni and I believe he will re-sign the Ukrainian for a two-year $3.75M contract. Because Alexei disappeared in a Penguins uniform, his free agent status fell. A $1.875M per year cap hit will be well worth his 40-50 points.

Mark Eaton: Eaton is a must sign. A shutdown defensive pair is a necessity for another Pens cup run. Mark Eaton is 1/2 of the shutdown pair and could look very good with an incoming free agent (Anton Volchenkov). If I were Shero, I would ink Eaton to a 3-year $7.5M contract. That’s $2.25M in 2010-2011 and $2.5M in 2011-2012 and $2.75M in 2012-2013.

Bill Guerin: With Eric “Big Dog” Tangradi on his way to the top (yes…Sid’s line), Pittsburgh will probably not be a good fit for Guerin. Not only would he have to take a pay cut, but he would be losing a lot of playing time as well. I believe the Pens will let Billy G walk away and he may retire.

Ruslan Fedotenko: Feds had a very disappointing year for the Pens in 09-10. As a top-6 winger and demanding around $2M per year, Ruslan seems to be a goner. He produced 30 points in 80 regular season games and only appeared in 6 playoff games. A minus-20 in the regular season and playoffs combined shows that Fedotenko lacks the desire to play two-way hockey. I would not be surprised if Shero offers Ruslan a one-year $1M sheet, but I’m confident he won’t re-sign. After his horrible performance this past season, Fedotenko should end up in the KHL next season.

Jordan Leopold: Ray Shero acquired Leopold at the deadline for a reason…to shutdown Ovechkin. The Pens need to stop Ovechkin in the Winter Classic and in the playoffs. I think Leopold will be re-signed to a two-year $3.75M deal and will help bring the Cup back to the Burgh. A $1.875M cap hit.

Jay McKee: The “Key” didn’t work out as well as the Pens wished. McKee just doesn’t fit in the Penguins plan. He is a solid defender that could replace a Paul Martin or Anton Volchenkov. Freeing up McKee’s cap space will help Shero make another trade deadline deal in 2011. The “Key” must walk and will bring success to another team.

Matt Cooke: The Pens MUST re-sign the cookie monster. Cooke is more than just the average agitator. When healthy, he is consistently a 30-point scorer. A three-year deal for $1.8M per year is the perfect way to keep the best 3rd line in hockey together for at least one more year.

If the Penguins Re-sign…
Mark Eaton $2.25M
Jordon Leopold $1.875M
Alexei Ponikarovsky $1.875M
Matt Cooke $1.8M

This adds up to $7,800,000 and makes the salary $53,754,166.
That leaves approximately $3,045,834-$5,045,834 to make free agent signings after July 1st.

D Anton Volchenkov: In my opinion, the Pens MUST ink Volchenkov. The 28 year old is the best shot-blocking and shutdown defenseman in the league. The Penguins should offer a 6-year contract. The deal would offer $4.25M for the first year, and $4.5M for every year after. The $26.75M contract would lock up a shutdown pair in Eaton/Volchenkov for at least 3 years.

There would be $795,834 left for Ray Shero to work with.

D Andy Sutton: The 6’6″ could be a decent pick up for the Pens if the Sens don’t re-sign him. The only problem is that he is 35 years old and could turn into a Jay McKee. He might not fit in the Penguins system and could be the odd man out especially if Deryk Engelland and/or Ben Lovejoy make the team.

There would be $1,445,834 left for Shero to work with.

D Paul Martin: The American Olympian is still flying under the radar. Playing in New Jersey’s defensive style for 6 seasons makes Martin a good fit for the Penguins. Last season, they got away from their defensive structure that Therrien had instilled in the players during his time as head coach. Martin would be half of the Pens new shutdown defensive pair. I would sign Paul Martin to a four year deal totaling $16M. A $4M per year cap hit.

There would be $1,045,834 left for Ray Shero.

LW Alexander Frolov: If Ponikoravski does not get re-signed, Frolov might be Malkin’s new winger. The 27 year old Russian has scored 50 points in each of the last five seasons with the LA Kings. On Malkin’s line, he could potentially be a 70 point scorer. I do not see the Penguins signing Frolov because there just would not be enough cash for everyone.

LW Alex Tanguay: If Poni doesn’t re-sign, Tanguay might be the only top 6 foward that the Pens could afford. Alex’s production has decreased in each of his last five seasons. The quality of his team has decreased in each of his last five seasons as well. Tanguay would look great with Crosby and Tangradi and the Pens could energize his career. Alex would be a steal at $2.8M per year. If I were Shero, I would look deeply into acquiring Tanguay for 3 years. The deal could total around $8.4M.

If Tanguay signs instead of Ponikarovsky, there would be $4,129,834 left for Shero.

The Penguins could potentially sign two incoming free agents depending on their salaries. The possibilities are Tanguay/Martin, Tanguay/Sutton. Tanguay/Volchenkov is probably not feasible, but you never know with Ray Shero.




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