The signing of Arron Asham has not officially closed the door on a return for 39 year old veteran Billy Guerin.
While the Penguins currently do not have an offer on the table to Guerin, the two sides have remained in contact.
Pens GM Ray Shero and Bob Murray, the agent for Guerin held multiple conversations throughout the week and according to a contact in Guerin’s camp, they were told that the Asham signing has not “closed the door on Billy.”
Clarification on Guerin’s future in Pittsburgh will be known within the next 7-to-10 days, according sources from both sides.
Guerin entered free agency seeking close to the $2 million a year salary he made in 2009-2010. His options though have been limited and he currently doesn’t have a firm offer on the table, despite a few teams including the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers who have been “kicking the tires” on him.
The Penguins have been operating under the mindset where they weren’t going to come to Guerin this off-season and offer a significant reduction in pay. They have been waiting for him to make that move.
One team source tells me it pains GM Ray Shero to offer a valuable player a reduction in pay but in the end, it’s the reality of the salary cap era.
However, there’s no certainty that the Penguins will decide to make Guerin an offer.
The team will conduct internal meetings next week as early as Tuesday.
There has been mixed opinions on Guerin throughout the organization with the main concern regarding where he would fit into the lineup if he’s unable to play a top-6 role.
Most of those concerns I’m told have been coming from the coaching staff who will also play a big role in the final decision regarding Guerin.
The Penguins currently have $56.608 million committed to 19 skaters for the 2010-2011 season. Add in a $500,000 cap hit for a number 6 defenseman and the Penguins approximately have $2.292 million in cap space.
That gives them about $1.3 million of wiggle room to fill two more roster spots if they decide to open up the season with 13 forwards, 7 defenseman and 2 goaltenders.
Guerin is looking at a situation where he’s going to have to accept a salary in the $700,000 – $850,000 range if the Penguins are to keep $750,000 – $1 million in cap space for roster moves and trades.
Under GM Ray Shero, the Penguins have always tried to operate with at least $750,000 in cap space as pro-rated salaries later in the season have led to the Penguins being active at the trade deadline.
With concerns surrounding their top-6 wingers, that’s an option the Penguins want to keep open throughout the season.
Bringing back Guerin even at a salary under $1 million per season is a tricky situation for Pens’ management due to the question marks regarding what he has left in the tank.
Guerin’s return would also close the door on a few young forwards who are on the cusp of earning a roster spot.