AHLer’s heading overseas has been a common scene for the Penguins this off-season.
Goaltender John Curry and defenseman Steve Wagner made the move in recent weeks and veteran defenseman Andrew Hutchinson appears to be the latest.
According to a report in Russa, Hutchinson has signed with Bary’s of the KHL.
Assistant GM Jason Botterill went into the off-season with defensemen Corey Potter, Hutchinson and Wagner among their UFA’s on the blueline and expectations have been that at least two of the three wouldn’t be retained with Potter being the top priority to return.
The Penguins have shown a strong interest in retaining Potter but it’s not clear whether he wants to seek better opportunities at the NHL level.
Potter led the Baby Pens with 9 playoffs points and was a +25 in the regular season. He had 37 points in the regular season.
Wilkes Barre is loaded with young D in Robert Bortuzzo (2007 3rd RD pick, +28 in 2010-2011), Brian Strait (2006 3rd RD pick, +22), Carl Sneep (2006 2nd RD pick, +17) and incoming top prospects Simon Despres (2009 1st round pick) and Philip Samuelsson (2009 2nd RD pick).
Alex Grant (2007, 4th round pick) is also under contract.
Resigning Potter would round out the top-6 very nicely and right now there only appears to be a need for the team to bring in one veteran defenseman.
At the forward position, Paul Thompson, Brian Gibbons, Nick Johnson, Keven Veilleux, Eric Tangradi, Joe Vitale, Ryan Craig, Ben Street, Zach Sill, Nick Petersen, and Casey Pierro-Zabotel are under contract.
2010 4th round pick Tom Kuhnhackl also signed an entry level deal a few months ago.
Joey Haddad is currently a restricted free agent.
Dustin Jeffrey is also a restricted free agent but if he can return from his injury to where he was late last season, expectations are the Penguins will need to find him a spot on the big club.
Jeffrey though figures to start next season in Wilkes Barre, if he’s not ready for camp.
There is still a need for a few borderline NHL/AHL forwards to be added to the mix, especially with the possibility that a few of those on 2-way deals could make the big club out of camp.
Brett Sterling who led the team with 53 points and had 3 goals in 7 games with the Penguins, likely tops the list.
However, as of Wednesday no discussions on a new deal had taken place yet between Botterill and Sterlings agent Allain Roy.
Tim Wallace is also a unrestricted free agent.
At the goaltending position, Patrick Killeen and Mattias Modig are under contract.
Brad Thiessen is a restricted free agent and is said to be seeking a one-way contract in year two of any deal. Thiessen’s agent Ian Pulver is said to be eyeing Thiessen as Pittsburgh’s backup in 2012-2013. It remains to be seen whether Pittsburgh see’s it that way and Thiessen’s next contract could dictate that.
Valuable netminder Brent Johnson is signed for one more season at the NHL.