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Insider Only Off-Season Report: Players ready to push for a roster spot believed to be an area of focus

Just like Penguins management, General Manager Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings have been given an earlier jump on the off-season for the first time since 2007. The Red Wings have been aggressive this week, re-signing defenseman Nik Lidstrom to a one year deal and signing veteran forward Tomas Holmstrom to a two year deal worth $3.75 million.
The Penguins under GM Ray Shero have taken a more patient approach at this early stage. The Penguins have yet to hold substantive talks with any of their 8 free agents as the Penguins focus has been on other areas.
The Penguins focus for the time being has been on the draft and key areas such as what went wrong this season and prospects who could push for a roster spot next season.
Sources tell me the Penguins hockey operations staff has held a number of meetings over the past two-three weeks evaluating the Penguins minor league system.
The name that clearly draws the most buzz inside the organization is winger Eric Tangradi. Talk coming out of Penguins headquarters is that the team will go into next season with an open mind about Tangradi. I’m told there is going to be no preconceived notion that Tangradi can’t win a spot out of training camp.
Tangradi’s chances to open up next season with the big club is going to be all on him as one source tells me the Penguins want Tangradi to get stronger this summer and improve his off-ice habits.

Auditioning for the “Big Club will begin in about 6-7 weeks when the Penguins hold their annual prospect camp in late July.
The Penguins were pleased with Tangradi’s development through the second half of last season. One area he has to work on is becoming more consistent in the physical department.
Tangradi’s going to be with the big club at somepoint in the 2010-2011 season, it’s just a matter of whether it will be within the first two months of the season or January of next year.
Tangradi, 21, had 17 goals and 22 assists in 65 games played for Wilkes Barre/Scranton.
Other forwards who have been evaluated closely regarding their prospects of pushing for a roster spot next season include Nick Johnson, Mark Letestu, Dustin Jeffrey and Chris Conner.
Johnson and Conner are RFA’s and will be offered tenders.
Letestu and Jeffrey are under contract for next season.
Notes: The Philadelphia Flyers evened up the Stanley Cup Final at 2-2, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 on Friday night. The series now shifts back to Chicago for game 5.

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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