Thirteen days after being eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the playoffs, Penguins management continues to take a patient approach with their group of eight free agents and that will continue this week.
Management including GM Ray Shero will be in Toronto this week for the scouting combine as the Penguins focus will be on the draft.
Pittsburgh has yet to begin negotiations with all of their unrestricted free agents, including defenseman Sergei Gonchar who is believed to be the teams No. 1 priority.
The Penguins have yet to establish a “timetable” for talks to begin with Gonchar’s camp. J.P. Barry the agent for Gonchar will be in Toronto this week and intends to speak to Shero at the combine about “timing”, according to a league source.
Therefore, official contract talks won’t kick off until next week at the earliest as none are scheduled to happen this week.
There has been some talk floating around that the Penguins will set the NHL draft (June-25, 26) as a self imposed deadline but with talks not even established yet, that remains to be seen.
It’s way too early in the process to even speculate if the Penguins would look to trade Gonchar’s rights, assuming the two sides were “too far apart” as July 1 inches closer.
*A source close to Mark Eaton told me nothing is brewing right now. Eaton’s camp expects to engage in talks in the next couple weeks but there is no rush from either side at this point. Eaton, 33, made $2 million last season.
One talent evaluator I spoke to believes Eaton will be highly coveted from a number of contenders looking to bolster their 2nd or 3rd pairing and called him a perfect fit for the Washington Capitals. The consensus is that Eaton’s market value will be in the $2.5-$2.75 million per season range.
Eaton has spent the past four seasons in Pittsburgh and has close ties to GM Ray Shero.
*The Penguins are entering a very important draft. The Penguins draft 20th overall and there’s a strong need to add a winger with top-2 line potential in the first round.
The Penguins system is deep with defenseman and role players. With so much money tied up to their core, it is very important to build through the draft and after trading away Luca Caputi, adding wingers with top-6 potential becomes even more of a priority.
There is a strong group of 5-to-6 wingers projected to go into the 15-30 range.
10 Wingers are among Central Scoutings top 30 North American Skaters with 7 of the 10 ranked 12-26.
- No. 2 Overall: Taylor Hall, Windsor (OHL)
- No. 3 Overall: Brent Connolly, Prince George (WHL)
- No. 8 Overall: Emerson Etem, Medicine-Hat
- No. 12 Overall: Nino Niederreiter, Portland (WHL)
- No. 14 Overall: Austin Watson, Peterbourgh (OHL)
- No. 15 Overall: John McFarland, Sudbury (OHL)
- No. 20 Overall: Stanislav Galiev, Saint John (QMJHL)
- No. 23 Overall: Petr Straka, Rimouski (OHL)
- No. 24 Overall: Charlie Coyle, South Shore (EJHL)
- No. 26 Overall: Kevin Hayes, Nobles (HIGH-MA)