Decision Day for Penguins on Expansion Draft

The Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday celebrated another Stanley Cup with an estimated 650,000 in attendance for the championship parade and now the work starts to begin for Penguin management.

Exit meetings are being conducted today between coaches/management/players and just over 48 hours from the Penguins having to send in their protected expansion draft list, the club has to start looking forward to next year today.

The looming decision is whether to go with the 7-3-1 setup for the expansion draft or the 4-4-1 setup?

As reported here a weeks ago, the Penguins are one of the few teams that’s given strong consideration to going with the 4-4-1 to protect defensemen Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz.

“At times the composition of the list gets changed a little bit, but we have a pretty good idea of what we’re doing,” GM Jim Rutherford told the Post-Gazette on Wednesday. “We haven’t made a decision on that (7-3-1 or eight skaters). I’ll make a final decision on it Thursday. There’s a possibility it could go either way.”

Ian Cole who the Penguins will give strong consideration to signing to an extension this summer, will be exposed under each scenario but the Penguins are confident he won’t be selected.

If the Penguins can work something out where Vegas won’t touch one of their top-4 defensemen, the Penguins will likely go with the 7-3-1 route but as Rutherford said, it’s 50-50 at this point.

It’s anticipated only 3-4 teams will go the eight skaters route.


— The Penguins do not have much expectations of resigning Nick Bonino solely for financial reasons only, but will take a wait and see approach on older UFA’s Chris Kunitz and Trevor Daley.

Kunitz has all intentions of playing next season and early indications are he’s eyeing a two year deal.

Many are anticipating Matt Cullen to retire.

— Speculation around the league won’t go away that the Ph[hide]iladelphia Flyers are a team than plans to pursue Marc Andre Fleury if he, as expected, becomes a member of the Vegas Golden Knights one way or another by next week.

Fleury and Vegas are both willing to start a marriage but it’s uncharted waters for Fleury as Vegas has given the Fleury camp no guarantees of what will happen, a source says.

That what makes Fleury giving the Penguins his word in February that he’d waive his no movement clause for the expansion draft even more impressive. Fleury said Wednesday to the Post-Gazette he agreed to waive solely for the helping the Penguins Cup Run and nothing else.

Fleury recently submitted a new 12-team no trade list to the Penguins. He can be traded to 18 other clubs.

Justin Schultz arguably the biggest wildcard this off-season indicated today he wants to stay as a Penguin, which players in final interviews always say. It’s all going to come down to whether he’s willing to take less than market value or not in regards to whether a long-term deal happens.

The Penguins have a number they value him at and this isn’t going to be some long contentious negotiation. The Penguins expected to learn early which way it is going to go.

Notable Injuries

*Ian Cole played in the playoffs with a fractured hand.

*Justin Schultz has fractured ribs.

*Nick Bonino a broken tibia.

*Brian Dumoulin played with a bad hand injury all post-season.