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Insider Only Morning Pens Buzz: Pens want to get younger at some spots; Team could be hardpressed to replace Sullivan, Michalek with better players this off-season

MORNING PENS BUZZ
Penguins GM Ray Shero made sigificant moves at the NHL draft getting an excellent return for Jordan Staal who pretty much forced Shero’s hand in dealing Jordan to Carolina, and then Shero created much needed cap space by moving Zbynek Michalek’s $4 million a year salary without bringing any salary back to give the Penguins flexibility to possibly make an impact move for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
However, after striking out on Parise and Suter, the Penguins who haven’t won a playoff series since 2010, have now lost one of the NHL’s premier two-way centerman in Jordan Staal, a 48 point winger who played a big factor on the Penguins going from 25th on the power play in 2010-2011 to 5th in the NHL last season, to also losing Zbynek Michalek who clearly didn’t meet expectations but was still a serviceable No. 4 defenseman who logged 21:38 of ice time per game and led all Penguin defensemen in ice time shorthanded, averaging 3:38 for a unit that while stumbled mightily in the playoffs, was one of the best in the NHL during the regular season ranking 3rd in the league (87.8%).
As currently constructed the Penguins remain a contender but personnel wise they didn’t replace Jordan Staal with a better player in Brandon Sutter who is going to be an impact player but let’s be honest isn’t Jordan Staal, and based on the free agent market and high demands in the trade market, they might be hard pressed at the end of the day to replace Steve Sullivan and Zbynek Michalek with better players when it’s all said and done, as in regards to Michalek, there could be a learning curve for some of the Penguins inexperience defensemen they intend to place in the top-6.
PENS WANTED TO GET YOUNGER AT SOME KEY SPOTS THIS SUMMER
The Penguins determined out of their scouting meetings in early June that they wanted to get younger on the blueline giving some of their top NHL ready prospects on the blueline a legitimate opportunity to win jobs next fall, most notably Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo who are restricted free agents and eligible for waivers, in addition to 2009 first round pick Simon Despres. “We’ve got younger defenseman that need to play, ” Shero said.
The Penguins also determined out of those meetings that they wanted to get younger at Steve Sullivan and Arron Asham’s spot at forward which led to the team deciding this week not to make offers to either player, despite strong interest from both players in returning.

As it was time for Sullivan to move on offers he had on the table, agent Steve Bartlett came back to the Penguins to give them an opportunity to match at a time Tuesday night when GM Ray Shero pretty much knew Zach Parise wasn’t coming. It didn’t matter as Shero said yesterday in the end Pittsburgh decided they weren’t going to bring back the soon to be 38 year old.
“We made a decision on Sully that we were going to move on anyways, ” Shero said. “I was in constant contact with his agent and he told me offers they had and we talked internally again but we just made the internal decision that Sullivan should probably take one of those offers, ” Shero said. “I encouraged the agent to do that.”
The Penguins made a similar decision with Billy Guerin in summer of 2010 when Guerin was coming off a 20+ goal season and the Penguins just felt it was time to move on as Sullivan’s age is a factor in the Penguins deciding to pass.
“At some time maybe try to get a little bit bigger and younger at same time, ” Shero said of replacing Sullivan’s spot.
Arron Asham’s age was also a factor in the Penguins deciding not to make an offer to him. Pittsburgh wanted to get a little bit younger on the 4th line, leading to the signing of 28 year old Tanner Glass.
“What Tanner brings, a guy we identified for our bottom six and he’s at the right age for us, and he has a track record in the league, ” Shero said. “Great character, really good team person, can skate, can forcheck, likes to create turnovers and is a physical guy who will fight when needed. He’s a guy that can kill penalties as well. A good signing for us, ” Shero said of the signing.
Although the roster hasn’t taken shape yet and more bodies could be moved in potential trades, the Penguins appear set in their bottom six with Matt Cooke and Brandon Suter penciled in on the 3rd line with Tyler Kennedy if the Penguins aren’t forced to move Kennedy up to the top-6 or if Kennedy isn’t traded.
The 4th line has Tanner Glass, Joe Vitale and Craig Adams with the likes of Erc Tangradi, Dustin Jeffrey, Zac Sill and others as options.
Jeffrey who could be trade bait this summer, has a one-way contract and is waiver eligible, in addition to Tangradi who is currently a restricted free agent. If the Penguins don’t move anyone out and add a top-6 forward to join Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and Dupuis, there might not be a spot for Tangradi and Jeffrey next season.
2013 STANLEY CUP ODDS
The Pittsburgh Penguins remain in the top spot for the 2013 Stanley Cup odds going from 7/1 odds on June 13 to now 15/2 odds. The biggest move was the Minnesota Wild who went from 75-1 odds on 6/13 to 22-1 odds after yesterday’s signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. These odds though are always somewhat laughable as the Devils lose Zach Parise and go from 30/1 odds to 28/1 odds.
TOP-10
Pittsburgh Penguins 15/2
Vancouver Canucks 11/1
Chicago Blackhawks 12/1
New York Rangers 12/1
Los Angeles Kings 12/1
Detroit Red Wings 14/1
St. Louis Blues 14/1
Philadelphia Flyers 15/1
Boston Bruins 16/1
Nashville Predators 18/1
The rest of the odds can be read here:

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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