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Insider Only Analysis: Pens clearing cap space with Michalek move, add intriguing prospect

Trade talks were brewing all night between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Phoenix Coyotes and the two sides struck a deal minutes after the draft ended.
Pittsburgh sent defenseman Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix in exchange for a third round pick in the 2012 entry draft, defensemen Harrison Ruopp and goaltender Marc Cheverie.
Ruopp, a tough defenseman at 6-2, 200lbs was the Coyotes third round pick last year is a player the Penguins have had on their radar. “We almost took him last year in the second round, ” Shero said. “He’s big, plays aggressively, ” Shero said, pointing out the Penguins lack those type of defensemen. Harrison plays a hard nose physical style.

Ruopp, 19, played for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season after being drafted by the Coyotes in the third round (84th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft. Ruopp appeared in a career-high 62 games for Prince Albert, posting nine points (2G-7A) and 127 penalty minutes.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Ruopp has spent the past three seasons with the Raiders, collecting 18 points (2G-16A) and 263 penalty minutes in 149 regular-season games. Ruopp, a native of Zehner, Saskatchewan, added nine penalty minutes in six playoff contests.
The move of Michalek is significant from the standpoint that the Penguins have now cleared up to $6 million in cap space with today’s move.
Shero will continue to be aggressive and isn’t ruiling out another impact move in free agency or via trade. ” It’s possible” Shero said.
He also hasn’t ruled out moving another defenseman. “We see what happens in next few days, ” Shero said.
The Penguins wishlist is to add a long-term impact winger for Sidney Crosby and a No. 1 type defenseman or even top-4 defensemen, which some believe might be a bigger priority for Shero.
Prior to the Michalek deal there were discussions with Phoenix about a deal for Keith Yandle. The Penguins were also chatting often with the Nashville Predators but a source says the Penguins was not making a serious play for Ryan Suter’s rights.
It is now possible that the team will look into both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter on July 1. The team might be able to afford one of the two as more moves are likely. Zach Parise’s name was buzzing tonight in connections with Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh now has $55.6 million committed to salaries next season.
Notes: Following this trade the Penguins will own seven more selections in the 2012 NHL Draft between Rounds 2-7 on Saturday at CONSOL Energy Center. Following a single selection in the second round (52nd overall), Pittsburgh now owns two choices in each of the third (81st, 83rd) and fourth (92nd, 113th) rounds, and single picks in rounds five (143rd) and six (173rd).

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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