• As Dave Molinari of the Post-Gazette points out, Matt Cooke’s return to Pittsburgh is looking less likely. The word I’ve gotten from the Cooke camp all week has been that talks are stagnant and there’s been no movement towards a new deal. Early last week sources said Pittsburgh offered Cooke a 2 year, $2.5 million deal with an AAV of $1.25 million. It was declined and Cooke countered with two proposals I’m told, a three year deal and a two year deal with an AAV of close to $2 million. If Cooke wants to return, it’s going to be on the Penguins terms at the salary he made last season which was $1.25 million, not what his cap hit was ($1.8 million)
  • Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks top the Penguins wishlist of Matt Cooke replacements but there is considerable interest around the league for both. Both appear unlikely in talking to people in the know.
  • Cap wise the Penguins are operating with the mindset of Dustin Jeffrey, Robert Bortuzzo and Harry Zolnierczyk being on the roster. All three project to take up close to $2 million in cap space, leaving the Penguins with only about $2 million to spend when you factor in the Penguins like to keep at least $500,000 – $700,000 in cap space for the start of the season. That said, word is the Penguins have a few moving parts out there that could see them moving some space to add to the roster.
  • One name certainly popping up is Matt Niskanen. Executives around the league feel this summer could be the best time for the Penguins to move Niskanen due to a weak free agent group. One NHL source predicted teams would overpay for Niskanen. Niskanen a free agent next summer, carries a $2.3 million cap hit and is likely a $3 to $4 million player on the open market. The only way the Penguins move him, though, is if they are able to add a top-4 defenseman via free agency or trade.

  • That brings me to Rob Scuderi. Returning to LA is still possible but the talk of Scuderi wanting to play in the East and in a less hectic city is legit, according to sources close to Scuderi. One scenario the Penguins explored prior to resigning Dupuis was if Dupuis was going elsewhere, they would look at turning that money into defense with Scuderi the most likely target. You would think he would be off the radar, but that doesn’t appear to be the case and there was a reach out by the Scuderi camp and the Penguins could still get creative if they really wanted to bring Scuderi on board. Scuderi made $3.4 million in 2013. The two sides are talking.
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