The Pittsburgh Penguins would love to strike a quick deal with Pascal Dupuis, the organization’s top free agent, but the chances of the two sides quickly coming to an agreement are slim.
Dupuis, 34, made $1.5 million this season and seeks at least a three year deal from the Penguins, but his camp will first be shooting for a four year deal from the Penguins when negotiations begin, and I expect Dupuis’ agent Allan Walsh to play hardball for a little bit leading up to free agency on July 5th.
The Penguins low-balled Dupuis in the summer of 2011 when they initially offered him a one year deal worth $1.5 million before eventually going two years. Pittsburgh won’t be able to go that route this time around.
The feeling around the league is that Dupuis will have multiple teams chasing him in free agency with offers of three to four years and exceeding $4 million per season.
I expect the Penguins to eventually come in at 3 years worth $10-$11 million but will it be enough to keep Dupuis from testing free agency? Dupuis will have people in his ear to see what’s out there, and if Dupuis hits the open market, the Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to be one team high on Dupuis wishlist.
While things can change coming out of the Penguins pro scouting meetings later this week, Jarome Iginla is expected to be a plan B option, were the team unable to get a deal done with Dupuis later this month. Despite his play in the Conference Finals, sources say GM Ray Shero strongly believes Iginla has two to three more impact years in him as a top-6 forward and power play specialist. The Penguins brass also feel Iginla could have a strong impact on the development of Beau Bennett who figures to play a more prominent role next season.
The problem for Pittsburgh is that Iginla doesn’t appear as interested in returning as he was a few weeks into his trade to Pittsburgh, as some leaks were coming out at the time that he envisioned Pittsburgh as his possible last stop in his career.
For Iginla to return, it’s all going to depend on what happens to Dupuis and whether Iginla is actually dead set on signing with a Cup Contender, which some doubt.
One issue that must be addressed between the Penguins and Iginla is that Iginla is going to want clarity on what his role would be moving forward. That’s the first key I’m told before discussing any numbers, and If Bylsma returns, it diminishes the chances even more of Iginla resigning.
Were Iginla to return, the Penguins want him to take on a more leadership role inside the locker room. Neither Iginla or Brenden Morrow stepped up into leadership roles like Billy Guerin did in 2009 when he immediately took over the room and had a huge impact on the 2009 team. Morrow, especially, is said to have just been happy to be here and didn’t make much of an attempt to become a big locker room presence.
Iginla is clearly not a dominant player but when utilized the right way, can still be a productive player and help teams. Just like Shane Doan last summer, the market is likely to be strong for the 35 year old Iginla.
Dallas and Colorado are already two Non-Cup Contender teams getting mentioned as having Iginla on their wishlist. Iginla made $7 million this season and will be taking a paycut but Iginla’s reps at Newport Sports see Shane Doan as a strong comparable and sense the market for Iginla will be in the three to four year range at $4 to $5 million per season. Most of those type of offers, though, will be coming from Non-Cup contenders.
As for the Penguins other notable unrestricted free agents, Pittsburgh has interest in resigning Craig Adams and will consider resigning Matt Cooke at the right price and term (2 years). A deal with Adams is likely to come to fruition prior to free agency and possibly before the draft, an NHL source said on Monday.
The team does not envision resigning Brenden Morrow who has all intentions on testing the open market. Hearing from Morrow’s camp today, they are extremely confident that the market is going to be kind to the 34 year old winger. Morrow seeks a multi-year deal. Defenseman Douglas Murray is also considered a longshot to return to the Penguins.