LATEST ON MATT NISKANEN Here’s where things stand on the Matt Niskanen front: As I reported yesterdayÂ morning, Pittsburgh made an official qualifying offer to NiskanenÂ on Thursday and after initial talks were established on Thursday and Pittsburgh expressed interest to Niskanen’s camp in negotiating a multi-year deal, I was told this morning the two sides briefly spoke on Friday but no talks are planned this weekend. This talk of Niskanen rejecting the Penguins qualifying offer is off-base as making the qualifying offer is just a technicality of Pittsburgh retaining Niskanen’s rights. It was never rejected as both sides plan to work off the $1.75 million qualifying offer with the hopes of reaching a two-three year deal, most likely a two year deal to cover Niskanen’s final RFA seasons as Niskanen is not scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent until July 2014. While there had been optimism of the sides reachingRead More »
Some Saturday night Pens tidbits: — According to a league source, defenseman Paul Martin has recovered “well” from a concussion he suffered in Game 3 of the Penguins first round series with the Flyers. I’m told Martin likely would have been cleared to play at somepoint in the second round. “Paul is fine, ” the source said. Martin is believed to have no restrictions when it comes to his off-season regiment. — The Penguins have yet to inform backup goaltender Brent Johnson or his reps at CAA Sports that the team won’t be bringing back the 35 year old netminder.
With the Penguins professional scouting organizational meetings scheduled to get underway early next week, the team’s off-season blueprint is getting close to taking shape. However, this could very well be the week that GM Ray Shero begins to lay the groundwork of any potential big trades leading into the draft or later this summer for his hockey club. While it’s a near certainty Shero will get some General Manager’s asking about Jordan Staal this week in New York City as the NHL’s GM’s will be gathering for the GM meetings, there’s nothing coming out of the organization yet to suggest that Shero will listen to offers for Staal before he can start negotiating with Staal on July 1. Talk though around the league is that Rick Nash will be the story league wide going into the meetings, but the Penguins could be among the top stories coming out of theRead More »
LATEST BUZZ ON PENS CAP SITUATION The Pittsburgh Penguins struck a 6 year, $30 million deal with 24 year year winger James Neal this morning. Although the Penguins have known for a while that it was likely going to cost at least $5 million per season to get something done with Neal during the season, Neal officially signed makes it a reality for the team that a big salary is likely going to have to be moved, and possibly as early as this off-season. [instory] With the signing of Neal, Pittsburgh has $59.59 committed to 11 forwards, 6 defensemen and 1 goaltender on 1-way contracts for the 2012-2013 season. Why are the Penguins possibly in cap trouble? Because there is a strong push from small market owners to lower the salary cap to at least the $60 to $62 million range. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN reported this week that aRead More »
Carolina Hurricanes (12-19-6, 30 pts) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (20-11-4, 44 pts) Morning Skate Buzz PITTSBURGH — Expect to see the same lineup for the Penguins tonight when they face the Carolina Hurricanes at home. Defenseman Paul Martin is getting closer to returning to the lineup but Martin will not be an option to return to the lineup tonight. Martin is expected to be cleared to practice tomorrow with the team. Projected Lineup Kunitz – Malkin – Neal Dupuis – Staal – Kennedy Sullivan – Vitale – Cooke Asham – Williams – Adams Defensemen Orpik – Niskanen Despres – Michalek Picard – Lovejoy Marc Andre Fleury in goal
GM Ray Shero’s primary goal this off-season was to add two impact defensemen as the Penguins went into free agency with the mindset that they were willing to spend up to $9 million in an attempt to revamp their blueline. After striking out on trying to re-sign Sergei Gonchar or reaching a deal with Dan Hamhuis, Shero made an early splash just hours into free agency. The Penguins first struck a deal with defenseman Zbynek Michalek to a 5 year contract worth $20 million that includes a limited no trade clause. The contract runs through the 2014-15 season, and has an average annual value of $4 million dollars over the term of the contract. Michalek was a primary target of the Penguins once free agency opened up at 12:00 p.m. today and the first player they called, Pens GM Ray Shero later said. Michalek, 27, has played six NHL seasons, the last fiveRead More »