The Pittsburgh Penguins are not close to signing any of their big name free agents as GM Ray Shero and the Penguins hockey operations staff continue to prepare for the upcoming draft. The Penguins though have been in discussions with the agents of their key free agents.
The Latest Rundown
On Matt Cooke: Penguins GM Ray Shero has tabbed Sergei Gonchar and Matt Cooke as the teams top priorities.
Of the two, the Penguins have been more engaged in talks with Cooke’s camp to this point. Pat Morris, the agent for Cooke tells me, “we have had preliminary discussions with nothing imminent, ” Morris said.
Multiple team sources informed me last week that the Penguins have full intentions of going three years in an attempt to retain Cooke who has been a valuable player on the ice and inside the dressing room.
On Mark Eaton: No official talks have yet to take place between Shero and Stephen Bartlett, the agent for Eaton. Bartlett is currently on vacation until next week, so no talks are set to take place this week and at this point none are officially scheduled for next week.
Bartlett is regarded as one of the best negotiators in the game and is in no rush to engage in talks at this early stage. On a side note, Mark Eaton’s house is for sale but I’m told not to read too much into that right now.
On Sergei Gonchar: As I reported last Tuesday, J.P. Barry the agent for Sergei Gonchar intended to speak to Shero at the NHL combine in Toronto. The two sides had what is being described as a brief discussion last Friday. The Penguins timetable to begin talks…..
with Gonchar is set for next Wednesday I’m told.
A source in Gonchar’s camp tells me they’ve been given the indication that talks are starting fresh and issues the two sides had last winter can be thrown out the window.
Whether that leads to the Penguins offering a three year deal, which was the major holdup in previous talks remains to be seen. Head coach Dan Bylsma fully endorsed the idea of giving Gonchar a three year contract during the Penguins season end meetings.
On Jordan Leopold: The Penguins have not closed the door on retaining Leopold but there has been zero talks since Shero and Ben Hankinson the agent for Leopold touched base a few days after the Penguins were eliminated.
No talks are scheduled at this point. Leopold’s fate will be tied to Gonchar I’m told.