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Insider Only Agent for Steve Sullivan expects to get a “sense” for where things stand this week

WAIT AND SEE APPROACH?
As the Penguins have wrapped up their pro scouting meetings, the futures for the likes of Steve Sullivan, Matt Niskanen and Arron Asham will become much clearer in the next week or so.
Leading into last week’s pro scouting meetings, 37 year old winger Steve Sullivan is one of those situations that the Penguins were said to have been going back and fourth on.
No talks have been established or are imminent between the Penguins and Sullivan,

but Sullivan’s agent Steve Bartlett told me today he expects to speak with the team at somepoint this week to get a “sense of where things stand” and whether Sullivan is in the Penguins plans for 2012-2013. Sullivan last season made $1.5 million.
Sullivan who turns 38 in July, appeared in 79 games last season, collecting 17 goals and 48 points, including 21 power play points, playing a big role in the Penguins power play being ranked 5th in the NHL. Sullivan averaged a point per game in playoffs, with 6 points in six games playing on a line for the most part with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis.
He showed good chemistry with Crosby late in the season, most notably due to his ability to find players in space. Sullivan is an excellent playmaker and when evaluating Sullivan’s season, he also got stronger as the season went on, which is rare for players in their upper 30’s. Including playoffs, he had 32 points in his final 37 games.
The knock on Sullivan was his inconsistencies at even strength and ineffectiveness at times. His 27 even strength points ranked 8th on the team and behind the likes of third liners Matt Cooke (28 ESP) and Tyler Kennedy (30 ESP).
What could lead to the Penguins deciding to pass on the soon to be 38 year old Sullivan, is the fear of Sullivan not being able to stick in a first or second line role as he’s not suited to play a third or fourth line gritty type role.
“With their cap situation, the concern is always the sudden drop off in play, ” an NHL source said. “If you have a forty something player in a top-6 role, it’s a much more comfortable feeling if you’re sold on the player being able to drop back {down the depth chart}. Dropping Sully to the third or fourth line takes Pittsburgh away from how they want their third and fourth lines to play.”
Pittsburgh’s top-6 currently constructs of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz and the versatile Pascal Dupuis who could easily drop back to a third line role.
If Jordan Staal opens the season in Pittsburgh, the team will likely look to get him a lot of top-2 line time on the wing. The Penguins have no prospects ready to make a legitimate push for a top-6 forward spot next season.
The word I’m getting right now is that GM Ray Shero has interest in retaining Sullivan, but that the Penguins are likely to take a wait and see approach with Sullivan leading into July 1 and first explore all their options on the trade front.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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