As Penguins remain in negotiations with Matt Cooke, the team is doing their due diligence on third line options. The team has had early contact with Mike Wulkan, the agent for Capitals forward Matt Hendricks, Inside Pittsburgh Sports has learned.
Hendricks, 32, had 5 goals and 8 points in 48 games, playing mostly a third and fourth line role with the Capitals, but also saw time with Niklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin on the first line.
Hendricks is a strong character guy who is versatile with the ability to play wing or center. He was 56.8% in the faceoff circle this season and averaged 1:44 of ice time per game on the penalty kill. Hendricks played out the final season of a two-year, $1.65 million contract with the Capitals and he’s coveted due to the grit he brings to the table, can take faceoffs and eat up minutes on the penalty kill. Teammates also love him.
“We’ve talked with a bunch of teams that could be a good fit,” Wulkan said of the early interest around the league in Hendricks.
The New York Rangers are among the early suitors. Hendricks seeking a three to four year deal, is likely to price himself out of Pittsburgh’s range is the sense I’m getting but it’s early.
Following the Pascal Dupuis deal, the Penguins have around $4.7 million in cap space (18 players signed) but the team is operating with a much lesser number due to cap space that they project two to three of their restricted free agents who have been qualified will take up next season.
One agent of a third line type player he had heard around the draft that Pittsburgh had interest in, though hasn’t heard from them yet, said he doesn’t think Pittsburgh will now be an option for his client, saying “not sure Pittsburgh has any money left”.