The Pittsburgh Penguins free agency wishlist is to add one top-9 forward, a 4th line center and 4th line winger, and the team is at least doing their due diligence on the goaltending market, notably Jonas Hiller and Chad Johnson.
The team would also like to add a right handed defenseman, though, more of a depth defenseman, possibly NHL/AHL tweener. Winnipeg’s Zach Redmond, a puck moving defenseman, is among the names on the Penguins free agency list, team sources say
The Penguins only have around $14.6 million in cap space and restricted free agents Brandon Sutter and Nick Spaling project to take up at least $5 million in cap space when both players negotiate new deals after being qualified.
The Penguins continue to say they don’t need to create anymore cap space but that remains to be seen.
Nikolai Kulemin is the Penguins top target going into Tuesday but he has some company. After meeting with Benoit Pouliot’s agent Kent Hughes on Friday, Pittsburgh has not closed the door on Pouliot, despite the high asking price.
Sources say Kulemin and Pouliot are 1A-1B on the Penguins target list and the team hopes to land one of them.
Pouliot is looking for at least a three year deal worth around $3.5 million per season. He has as many as 10 teams interested. Kulemin has also sought a three to four year deal and will cost over $3 million per season.
Pittsburgh is willing to go at least three years for both players and upwards of at least $3 million per season, sources say, but there does not appear to be plans to sign both.
The Penguins covet a versatile top-9 forward who has the ability to play on the second or third line, a reason Kulemin is a top target. Kulemin, though, to Pittsburgh is not a slam dunk as word out of Kulemin’s camp is that including Pittsburgh, they feel there’s 3-4 other strong suitors.
Pouliot has excellent speed, strong forechecker and statistically was the best possession player among free agent forwards at 55.1%. Pittsburgh has prioritized becoming a better puck possession team.
If the Penguins strike out on Kulemin, Pouliot, where could things go? I’ll address that a bit later on some names making the rounds.
- Pierre LeBrun of ESPN reports the Jussi Jokinen camp approached Pittsburgh about a long-term deal worth $4 million per season and Pittsburgh declined. I hear it was 4 years – $16 million. Pittsburgh is not interested in resigning him.
- A team source says in addition to Zach Redmond, Flyers center Ben Holmstrom is another NHL fringe player Pittsburgh is looking at. More depth NHL/AHL targets.