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With training camp less than a month away, the Penguins have major holes at the third and fourth line center spots but when you’ve won back-to-back Stanley Cups, have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as the No. 1 and No. 2 centers to go with great depth at wing, who cares what your bottom-6 center position looks like in August, right?
That’s the stance the Penguins are taking after what sources describe as a trade in the works for a centerman making under $3 million per season, falling through shortly after the Conor Sheary signing in early August.
As trade talks throughout the league have dried up, which is notorious at this time of the year with no General Manager’s under pressure to make deals right now, what the Penguins are now seeing as great value is potentially opening up the season with over $3 million in cap space as that space would increase throughout the season.
What they want to do is keep themselves in on some players with high salaries that are currently available or likely will be.
The Penguins have lost a lot of value from their 2016-2017 Stanley Cup team this summer and this group has holes, but having the extra cap space along with moveable assets like Olli Maatta, Conor Sheary gives them ammunition to be a dangerous team in trade talks throughout the season.
— The Penguins will not be signing Denver University defenseman Will Butcher. As reported here, the Penguins were going to be entering the process on August 15th as a major long-shot to sign Butcher and that never changed once Butcher was permitted to speak and meet with teams.
Prior to August 15, Butcher and his camp had a list of three to four teams, (Devils, Sabres and Golden Knights among the group) they identified as primary landing spots and those specific teams have remained the area of focus for Butcher.
— On the heels of trading Oskar Sundqvist in June, the Penguins center prospect group also took a hit this summer in losing 2013 6th round pick Blaine Byron who informed the Penguins back in the winter that he had no plans to sign with the club and would exercise his right to be a free agent.
The Penguins brass have long believed Byron would sign with the New Jersey Devils. The Devils, Sabres and Senators are among the aggressive suitors in trying to sign Byron who had 18 goals and 41 points in 36 games for Maine.
— While the Penguins signing Patric Hornqvist to a three year extension prior to opening night is considered highly likely, rival clubs that have asked about the availability of Ian Cole this summer, a 2018 UFA, have come away believing Pittsburgh will Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" — One of the few scenarios that could see Jake Guentzel evolving into the Penguins third line center this season:
Pittsburgh acquiring Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
Barring a trade, training camp will have a lot of experimenting early on from coaches when it comes to wingers getting looks at center.
The three primary players identified are Scott Wilson Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"