Ray Shero values leadership in the locker room
Although nothing is on the forefront, look for the Penguins and winger Matt Cooke to discuss a contract extension at some point in the upcoming season.
Cooke who prefered to sign with an Eastern Conference team last summer due to the less travel time, has no interest in moving his family and would love to stay in Pittsburgh long-term.
Cooke will make a salary of $1.2 million this season and is not seeking much of a raise over his current salary.
Cooke is very popular among his teammates and became a vocal leader in the room.
With Pittsburgh losing key locker room leaders in Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill to free agency, and the fact that Billy Guerin may only be around another year or two, Cooke will be a priority for Pittsburgh to keep beyond the 2009-2010 season.
Ray Shero showed a strong interest in signing Max Talbot to an extension last year because of Talbot’s role as a leader on the team after Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque left via free agency.
Cooke, 30, had 13 goals for 31 points, including 101 penalty minutes last year.
Latest on Gonchar, Letang Contract Talks
If there is a deal in place with defenseman Sergei Gonchar,

both sides are keeping things very quiet. Sources tell me, talks will pick up when training camp begins with the Penguins hopeful that a deal can be struck before the regular season opener.
The two sides have discussed a number of parameters for a potential deal but the sticking point has been the term of the contract.
Gonchar camp would like to sign a 3 year extension.
Gonchar will make a salary of $5 million for the 2009-2010 season.
Letang turns down initial offer
Another priority for the Penguins has been defenseman Kris Letang. The young defenseman turned down an initial offer of 4 years worth $11.5 million.
The offer was made in early August. The Penguins expected Letang’s camp to decline their initial offer and two sides will begin working off of that offer as the season gets closer.
Letang’s camp is believed to be seeking upwards of $3.25 million per season.
Talks with Letang are expected to go into the season.