Latest Pens Buzz on Scouting Meetings next month, Fleury, Brunner, Sullivan & Niskanen

— Things are quiet in Penguins circles as GM Ray Shero and his staff have been preparing for the draft in the past week. Things though will be heating up in the next couple weeks internally as the Penguins begin to formulate an off-season game plan. Shero will be meeting with his coaching staff this week and the organizations professional scouting meetings are scheduled for the first week in June.
Onto some Rumblings:
— Among the topics in next months professional scouting meetings likely to be a contested discussion internally is a potential major overhaul with this group. “Everything will be on the table {in scouting meetings}, ” a team source says.
Marc Andre Fleury’s sudden drop in play during the playoffs the past three post-seasons has been discussed by management and the coaching staff, sources say. It could lead the Penguins to making a veteran backup goaltender among the top priorities this summer and possibly deciding to limit Fleury’s workload next season, especially late in the season. Backup Brent Johnson is not expected to be resigned. The team is looking for a goaltender who can push Fleury and an intriguing possibility from a long-term standpoint would be to consider drafting a goaltender in the second or third round and start developing a young goaltender in the system as the Penguins don’t even have a true NHL caliber backup goaltender in their system.
— At this point the Penguins are considered a longshot to land Swiss star Damien Brunner, league sources say. Despite early contact from the Penguins with agent Neil Sheehy a few months back and the team scouting Brunner heavily this year, the Penguins have not intensified their pursuit of Brunner yet and as of this morning, there’s been no contact between the Penguins and Brunner’s camp since Switzerland was eliminated from the world championships last week. Brunner’s camp intends to open up negotiations very soon with teams. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild are among teams with strong interest.

— GM Ray Shero is said to have some interest in retaining soon to be 38 year old winger Steve Sullivan who had 17 goals and 48 points on the season, including 21 power play points, playing a big part in the Penguins ranking 5th in the NHL on the power play. No decision has been made yet on Sullivan’s future but finalizing a deal won’t be difficult as the mutual interest is there and Shero has a great relationship with Sullivan’s agent Steve Bartlett. Due to Sullivan’s age, the smart decision though could be to take a wait and see approach on Sullivan who made $1.5 million last season.
— As I reported last week, no contract negotiations will be taking place between Pens and Matt Niskanen until June and Niskanen’s camp isn’t sure how things are going to play out due to the money the team has invested in their blueline and a deep group of prospects in the Pens system on the blueline ready for the NHL. Niskanen a pending restricted free agent, is due a $1.75 million qualifying offer to retain his rights.

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William DePaoli

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

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