One week until free agency, the Penguins have begun the process of evaluating potential targets on the backend. TIOPS has the latest on players who are of interest to Pittsburgh.
With the likely hood of Rob Scuderi leaving via free agency Pittsburgh is looking for a veteran defenseman in the range of $1-$1.3 million.
The Penguins will not go into the season with Ben Lovejoy as their #6 defenseman.
1. PIT Philippe Boucher – Age 36
08/09 salary: $2.5 million
Latest: Boucher became a leader in the locker and has become a mentor for Kris Letang. Dan Bylsma wants him back and Pittsburgh will approach him about coming back at a salary of about $1 million per season.
2. STL Mike Weaver – Age 31
08/09 salary: $700,000
Latest: Steady two defenseman who is a strong penalty killer. Was invited to training camp in 2007 and is a player Pittsburgh wanted to keep. Weaver is on the teams radar.
3. NSH Greg Zanon – Age 29
08/09 salary: $725,000
Latest: Ray Shero is very familiar with Zanon and he’s a player that has been discussed internally by the Penguins scouting staff. It will come down to the price.
4. BOS Shane Hnidy – Age 33
08/09 salary: $760,000
Latest: Veteran defenseman who could be signed for under $1 million per season. His play has slipped in the past year but was offered a two year deal by the Penguins in the summer of 2007. There will be some interest from Pittsburgh’s end.
5. SJS Alexei Semenov – Age 27
08/09 salary: $650,000
Latest: Built like Hal Gill (6-6, 240lbs) but has more offensive skills and is not as strong defensively and is not physical but does a solid job of clearing the front of the net.
A Penguins scout who scouts the Western Conference mentioned his name to me although Semenov is a borderline #6 defenseman.
Other notables: Pittsburgh has yet to conduct any talks with Hal Gill but team officials have not closed the door on a possible return.
Gill will have to reduce his salary by atleast $500k. That seems unlikely.
Regarding Francois Beauchemin, I find it hard to believe that Beauchemin won’t double his current salary of $1.6 million.
There are injury concerns but he is a high end #3 defenseman and will be out of the Penguins price range.