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Insider Only Friday’s Talking Points: Shero today sounded like a GM who still believes in Marc Andre Fleury

Reaching the third round for the first time since 2009, Penguins GM Ray Shero today credited the Penguins overall depth as a big reason for the Penguins deep run.
“We’ve gotten to the third round because the depth of our hockey team has really come through,” Shero said on Friday morning. “You saw that starting with Game 5 of the Islanders series, inserting three players into the lineup with Tomas Vokoun, Tyler Kennedy and Joe Vitale, and that made a difference in the series and helped us win that series. To get this far you need contributions from everybody.”
The Penguins by far have their most talented team during Shero’s tenure as GM and Shero called this current team “it’s deepest” but not yet the Penguins “best team” of Shero’s seven seasons as GM.
“I think it’s our deepest team,” Shero said. “In 2009 we won a Stanley Cup championship so that is our best team right now. I still think we have another level to get to as a hockey team, Boston probably feels the same way about their squad,” Shero said. “So it should be a great series.”
When you walk in the Penguins locker room, you’re not going to find a better group of people. There’s really not a bad apple in the group and that’s something Shero seems very proud about. Shero talked today of “good people joining good people” when he added Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray and Jussi Jokinen prior to the deadline.
“True professionals, all of them, the four that we picked up at the deadline,” Shero said. “Each one of the players we got at the deadline brings that leadership quality, but they’ve brought it in a different way than they had with their former team. It’s been a good fit, good people joining good people. That combination works out well off the ice. On the ice they’ve all fit the role that we hoped they would. They’ve all done good jobs for us.”
Players fitting off the ice is a very important ingredient to becoming a Cup winning team and there’s not a better person in that room than Jarome Iginla. “Very, very impressed as a person,” Shero said of Jarome Iginla.
If the Penguins were to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, they could be playing hockey as late as June 28th. That would mean a compressed schedule in trying to construct next years roster. The NHL entry draft is June 30th and free agency begins on July 5th.
In a rare move when it comes to still playing in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings yesterday signed defenseman Robyn Regehr to a two year extension.
I don’t expect the Penguins to follow suit and sign any of their pending unrestricted free agents while they’re still playing during the post-season, but behind the scenes the team will start laying the framework on their off-season plans very soon, conducting their normal June pro-scouting meetings in the second week of June and likely reaching out to agents at somepoint in the next couple weeks.
The Penguins unrestricted free agents include Jarome Iginla, Matt Cooke, Brenden Morrow, Pascal Dupuis, Craig Adams, Douglas Murray, Mark Eaton. Notable restricted free agents include Tyler Kennedy, Robert Bortuzzo, Dustin Jeffrey and Eric Hartzell.
When including Simon Despres and Beau Bennett who project to play full-time roles next season, the Penguins have close to $57 million committed to 17 players for next season. The salary cap will be $64.3 million and it will be near impossible for the Penguins to have any chance of keeping most of this team together unless they were to move a big salary.
Marc Andre Fleury will surely be a name thrown around as arguments can be made that he’s no longer a $5 million a year goaltender and trading him would open up $5 million in cap space, but early chatter is it would be a surprise to those in league circles that the Penguins would move on from Fleury.
Shero today when answering some questions about Tomas Vokoun and what he’s meant to this team, also sounded like a General Manager who still believes in Fleury, though he spoke extremely high of Vokoun who Shero feels the Penguins might not have got out of the first round without.
“One of the things coming in for us is what he’s {Tomas Vokoun} done is be a great partner with Marc Andre,” Shero said of Vokoun. “Marc’s a great guy to get along with. They’ve pushed each other and when we made the trade for Tomas Vokoun I said at the time that I hope it makes Marc Andre a better goaltender and support him and I think it’s done that.”

While Shero claims Vokoun has made Marc Andre a “better goaltender”, he went on to say he doesn’t know if the Penguins win their first round series without Vokoun, and now believes Fleury’s game is back in order.
“Without having a Tomas Vokoun to go to in Game 5 of Islanders series, I’m not sure what happens, not sure we don’t win, but not sure we do,” Shero said. “But again that takes that the pressure off Marc Andre in that point in time. Marc’s game is back in order right now I believe through practices and so forth, but Tomas has done a very good job for us.”

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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