SOME SCUTTLEBUTT IN PENGUINS CIRCLES
Word inside the organization is the Penguins are counting on Steve Downie to play a big role throughout the top-3 lines and are confident he will be a much different player than he’s been the last couple years. A longshot to happen? Rick Tocchet’s stock as a head coach candidate will only rise if he can play a big factor again on Downie’s career.
Downie who had hearing issues last year and was regarded as being out of shape, is training with Gary Roberts this summer, something the Penguins feel is very important for him.
The Penguins expectation of Downie having a bounce back year and being the player he was 3-4 years ago, has management comfortable with the group of wingers right now, team sources say. One source projected him to get back to being a 15+ goal scorer.
SCUDERI STAYING PUT?
Another player management is counting on to have a bounce back year is veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi who the Penguins believe never got fully healthy this past season.
Team sources say the Penguins intentions right now are to keep Scuderi who they have not actively shopped this summer in an attempt to clear cap space. Scuderi has a modified no trade clause and can block trades to 15 teams. The Penguins have not approached Scuderi once about the possibility of a trade, a source close to Scuderi says.
The Penguins, as expected, have been in a bit of a tough negotiation with representatives for restricted free agents Nick Spaling and Brandon Sutter. Both are repped by Newport Sports, who boast some of the most powerful agents in the game. They are not afraid to drag negotiations into August and September for RFA’s.
Spaling’s arbitration hearing is in two weeks on the 31st, the Penguins hope to avoid the hearing. The Penguins have made a two year offer to Spaling that as of this morning were waiting to hear back on. Spaling is seeking at least $2.5 million on a short-term deal. Things appear to be looking like a deal for Spaling will come in the one or two year range with a cap hit of over $2 million per season. He can become an UFA July 1, 2016.
The Brandon Sutter negotiations have been a tricky negotiation because he’s a year away from unrestricted free agency.
Sutter will be a four to five million a year player on the open market, his camp strongly believes that, and I even had one source close to Sutter throw out the deal Dave Bolland got. They are selling him as being a No. 2 center in a lot of other cities.
Sutter signing a deal with the Penguins beyond one year is risky for him because he’s not old enough to have any no trade clause rights yet. This is a player the Penguins tried to trade at the trade deadline and the new GM traded him two years ago. Jim Rutherford, though, has expressed his desire to keep Sutter long-term and has informed Sutter and his camp of that desire.
The Penguins have proposed three different variations of contract offers, short and long-term, to Sutter’s agent Craig Oyster over the last 10-14 days.