FREE AGENCY OUTLOOK
The Pittsburgh Penguins could very likely see all of their pending unrestricted free agents from the NHL roster not return next season.
Craig Adams, Max Lapierre, Christian Ehrhoff and the Steve Downie are the four locks who won’t be back.
There will be no attempt to resign Adams and Lapierre, while Ehrhoff and Downie are preparing to move on.
Ehrhoff looking to join a contender again, prefers to return West the Penguins believe, but he’s likely to have a few options in the East. His agent Rick Curran has talked with up to five teams, three Western Conference, two Eastern Conference teams, Inside Pittsburgh Sports has learned.
Steve Downie upset about having to take a paycut last summer, fired his long-time agent Rick Curran months ago and hired Darren Ferris who is aggressively marketing Downie to other teams. Downie is looking for as much as $2.5 million per season, according to sources, and doesn’t have much of any interest in returning to the Penguins. Downie’ next stop looks to be the Boston Bruins.
— Daniel Winnik is unlikely to return, despite some interest from the Penguins. Winnik and his agent Pat Morris have a history of signing late into July.
— Those with a small chance of returning are Blake Comeau, Paul Martin and Thomas Greiss.
Comeau is the only Penguins forward among their UFA’s that the team held substantive talks and exchanged numbers with, but as of this weekend, there was a sizeable gap and that remains.
Comeau is seeking to more than double his salary of $700,000 last season and might get it.
Four teams have expressed interest to Comeau’s agent Kurt Overhardt, three believed to be serious. The Devils, Jets are among two of the teams expected to be in the mix for Comeau.
The Penguins have expressed an interest in retaining Thomas Greiss, but at a lesser cost than the $1 million he made last season. Greiss and his agent have intended to look around before circling back to the Penguins.
The wildcard in the mix is Paul Martin.
As of late Monday night, neither the Penguins nor the Martin camp are ruling out a return. Martin who is expected to receive at least 5-6 offers on July 1, likely to sign with a contender and already has a list of three to four teams he intends to sign with.
The Penguins remain one of them but Pittsburgh will have to get creative to make it work, as reported Friday night.
Martin has options and lots of them.
Among the teams believed to have their sights set on Martin:
Colorado is pushing hard for Martin, while the two runner ups for Martin in summer of 2010, Los Angeles Kings and New York Islanders, are expected to be among the bidders once again. Some rumblings around the league have the Washington Capitals making a surprise run at Martin and a team near the top of his list, but a source close to the Capitals is downplaying any run at Martin, due to other needs.
Anaheim also among the teams that checked in on Martin, while it wouldn’t be a surprise if Boston is among others that makes a play for him. He’s viewed by many contending playoff teams as the perfect piece for their blueline.
Expect Martin to leave some money on the table for the right situation.
— The reps for defenseman Taylor Chorney have been on the hunt for a 1-way contract or a good situation to potentially play in the NHL next season after Chorney showed some flashes in the playoffs vs the Rangers. He is in talks with the Penguins, though, and a return is possible.
— Another UFA in the organization is Conor Sheary, a very intriguing one. The Penguins can’t officially sign Sheary until July 1 and hope to do so. They’ve had good dialogue with his agent Lewis Gross, who is also Marty St. Louis agent, and will make a two year offer (2-way contract) to Sheary. Last year Sheary played on an AHL contract.
Sheary has options.
Three other teams have shown interest. New Jersey with John Hynes is one of them. Sheary’s in a good situation to pick the best spot that gives him a chance to get to the NHL.
The Penguins officially made RFA tenders to Beau Bennett, Bobby Farnham and Dominik Uher, Brian Dumoulin and Reid McNeill.
Those who weren’t tendered include Adam Payerl, Nick D’Agostino, and Eric Hartzell. All three become unrestricted free agents.