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The plan when the Penguins traded Phil Kessel just days prior to free agency on July 1 was to always turn the $1.9 million in cap space created from the trade into a $2.5-$3.5 million per season gritty two-way winger as the Penguins are all-in on this belief of subtracting an elite talent in Phil Kessel for what the Penguins feel will be a more balanced, two-way lineup with a bunch of 10-13 goals, 30-40 point players that the Penguins internally believe will outweigh the 90+-80+ points Phil Kessel netted them the last two seasons.
“We felt so strong about Tanev that we were willing to go as far as we had to go to make sure we got him,” GM Jim Rutherford said on July 1 in defending the Penguins going six years for a bottom-6 level player. “You never know with any player, the term of the contract, whether it works, how long it’s going to work, but it’s what you have to do to get the player.”
The $3.5 million a year commitment to Tanev has put the Penguins right back in a situation of where they have to move a body or two out to get all their ducks in a row with RFA’s Marcus Pettersson, Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger unsigned who will cost around $4 million to resign if the Penguins do a bridge deal with Pettersson. If the cap space is there, there is strong interest in the organization to do a deal in the 3-4 year range for Pettersson who the Penguins believe is evolving into a 2nd-level pairing defenseman.
Since the Tanev signing, there’s been one primary focus in the organization in trying to clear enough salary to get the roster settled for the start of the season.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"