With limited cap space, team contacts indicate the Penguins are not optimistic about adding a top-6 winger this off-season. However, the team is monitoring the situations for 2-3 wingers and into this weekend, have continued to touch base with the agents of three particular wingers.
At the top of the Penguins wish list appears to be….
Atlanta Thrashers winger Maxim Anfinogenov. The Penguins inquired about Afinogenov early this week and have continued to keep in touch with Afinogenov’s agent Don Meehan throughout the week, a source close to the situation told Inside Pittsburgh Sports on Saturday afternoon.
Afinogenov, 30, is eyeing a multi-year deal but GM’s and executives around the league are showing no interest in making a long-term commitment. They want to see Afinogenov prove himself for another year.
Prior to free agency begining, it is believed Afinogenov was seeking a three year deal and a substantial raise over his $800,000 a year salary to re-sign with the Atlanta Thrashers.
I have not been told this directly from anyone in Afinogenov’s camp but based on a few talks this week with Afinogenov’s agent Don Meehan, I get the sense there is an interest in Pittsburgh. The lure of playing with close friend Evgeni Malkin could keep Pittsburgh in the running until the end.
Afinogenov had 24 goals and 37 assists last season. Meehan says he has received several calls about Afinogenov and it’s believed the opportunity to play in the KHL is also out there for Afinogenov but his first priority is to play in the NHL.
Another winger the Penguins have had contact this week with is Raffi Torres. The team spoke with Steve Reich, the agent for Torres but at this time the Penguins are just kicking the tires on Torres.
An interesting development over the past 72 hours since the Penguins missed out on Rob Niedermayer is that the team did reach out to Don Baizley, the agent for Paul Kariya, a league source tells Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
No discussions have taken place between the two sides and as of Saturday afternoon a team source indicates Kariya’s camp has yet to follow up.
Word around the league is that Kariya’s top three destinations are Anaheim, Vancouver and New York (Rangers).
Coming off an 18 goal season and a salary of $6 million per season, we’re told Kariya won’t come back and play for pennies.
Kariya is reportedly undecided about whether he will play next season.
*The Penguins are among the teams interested in 40 year center Mike Modano but they have yet to hear back from Modano on whether he has any interest in talking with the Penguins about coming to Pittsburgh.
Modano met with representatives for the Detroit Red Wings this week and the list of suitors is growing. The Sharks, Wild, Rangers, and Capitals have also made inquiries.
*The Penguins are not players for Lee Stempniak or Alexander Frolov. Stempniak is seeking upwards of $3 million per season and Frolov is eyeing upwards of $4 million, despite a limited market. There have been no discussions with the representatives for either player.
*Indications are 35 year old winger Pavel Demitra is not on the Penguins radar. Demitra is considering NHL and KHL offers.