SOURCE: KULEMIN, MALHOTRA TOP PENGUINS WISHLIST
The Penguins off-season game plan is coming into focus. Adding three more forwards and possibly one goaltender top the Penguins free agency wishlist, team sources said Saturday.
The Penguins intend to make official offers to forwards Nikolai Kulemin, Manny Malhotra and David Moss on July 1, and have other fallback plans if deals are unable to be struck with any of those three, sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
The Penguins are confident of signing at least two of the three, believed to be Kulemin and Malhotra.
Kulemin is being targeted to play on Evgeni Malkin’s left wing, Malhotra and Moss are looked at by team officials as top targets to solidify the 4th line.
Malhotra, 34, played 69 games last season after returning to the NHL after a serious eye injury. He had 7 goals and 13 points, was 59.4% in the faceoff circle, top-3 in the NHL. He made $600,000 last season. A source says GM Jim Rutherford see’s Malhotra as a “great leader” in the room.
The Penguins will let centers Joe Vitale and Marcel Goc test free agency.
Solidifying the 4th line is a top priority for the Penguins but doing so would also have to involve removing Craig Adams as a regular in the bottom-3. Adams can no longer play the game at even strength but was a favorite of Dan Bylsma’s and never came out of the lineup.
Derek MacKenzie is a character guy the Penguins could also look at on July 1, among others.
If a deal were to fall through for Kulemin, Radim Vrbata and Ales Hemsky are among the top-6/top-9 forwards Pittsburgh has spoken with during the free agent interview process. Not on their radar at this point is Minnesota Wild forward Matt Moulson.
Meanwhile, the Penguins met with Benoit Pouliot’s agent Kent Hughes at the draft but Pouliot’s price is believed to be too high. Pouliot is seeking a three year deal worth around $3.5 million per season.