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Insider Only Pens to explore options into day 2 of free agency

The Pittsburgh Penguins made their big splash early into free agency and with about $2 million in cap space, the team is exploring their options at wing and still on defense.
The team would like to add a veteran defenseman on the cheap and still retain Billy Guerin or find a winger at the right fit/right price.
Accomplishing both of those goals will be difficult given the Penguins limited cap space.
The Penguins selling point to veterans is to join a contender, enter a great situation and compete for a Stanley Cup. It worked last year with Jay McKee.
Near the end of the day 1, the Penguins focus was on the subpar winger market.
The Penguins remain in constant contact with Billy Guerin who has drawn interest from two other teams but the Penguins are keeping their options open and exploring other alternatives just in case Guerin opts to go elsewhere.
Pens GM Ray Shero had a few conversations this evening with agent Matt Keator, a source close to the situation told me.
Keator represents wingers Chris Higgins and Pavel Demitra. Indications are the Penguins are believed to be intrigued by Higgins and inquired to gauge his interest.
Higgins, 27, is a 6-foot-0, 200 pound winger who scored just 8 goals last season in 67 games but has offensive upside. Higgins previous scored 20+ goals in three straight seasons from 2005-2008. His career high is 27 goals in 2007-2008 with the Montreal Canadiens.
Interest is reportedly high in Higgins despite putting together two straight disappointing seasons. However, it remains to be seen if any team is going to match Higgins 2009-2010 salary of $2.25 million.
Could Pittsburgh be an attractive landing spot for Higgins camp to get back to the 20 goal range and cash in next season? Appears unlikely but that’s the kind of selling point the Penguins are trying to use.
More developments
  • Two players who hurt their stock considerably after the trade deadline were Raffi Torres and Alexei Ponikarovsky. It showed today as the market was very slow to develop for both players. 
  • I spoke to Rick Curran the agent for Ponikarovsky this evening around 8:00 p.m. who said his client won’t be signing on day 1. The vibe I got from Curran is that there’s not even an offer on the table. Curran tells me he expects Ponikarovsky to be apart of the “second wave” of signings.
  • As of 6:00 p.m., the Penguins had yet to speak to agent Don Baizley about client Paul Kariya. Maybe they do tomorrow but talk that they’re chasing Kariya is false.
  • Baizley tells me there has been action on Kariya just not from Pittsburgh yet.
  • The Penguins made one offer to a forward today in Ray Whitney. The team offered Whitney  a two year deal worth close to $2.5 million per season. The offer surprsingly remained on the table, even after the Penguins signed Paul Martin.
  • The Penguins were in the mix until the end for Whitney with Tampa Bay and Phoenix. If the Penguins signed Whitney, they would have went into the regular season right up against the cap and I’m told they were going to be fine with that. He’s a player they really wanted, despte the concerns of going two years.
  • Jordan Leopold signed a three year deal with the Sabres and received a significant raise. Leopold’s salary jumps from $1.75 million to $3 million per season.
  • Ruslan Fedotenko is in talks with the New York Islanders.
  • Stephen Bartlett, the agent for Mark Eaton received plenty of calls on Eaton but no firms offers. Washington among the intriguing teams to speak with Bartlett about Eaton today. There was a sense that Eaton was going to end up with the Minnesota Wild but that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. 

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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