Will the Penguins actually go with youth on the blueline? We’ve heard it a lot the past couple off-seasons, especially last summer when Dan Bylsma was blabbering at his end of the season press conference about Simon Despres being the a top-4 defenseman for the 2013-2014 season, yet the Penguins couldn’t help themselves and signed a declining player in Rob Scuderi days later to be on their second pairing with Kris Letang.
This year, though, all indications are that it’s legit, the Penguins have made an organization decision in the past couple days to go young and won’t invest significant money into a legitimate top-6 defenseman in free agency.
Matt Niskanen is out of the picture and after talks with Brooks Orpik’s agent Lewis Gross on Thursday, the Penguins have decided against making an attempt to resign Orpik, the Penguins first round pick in 2000.
Orpik, according to team sources, is seeking $5 million per season.
The team also spoke with Dan Boyle’s agent George Bazos at the draft but that appears to be a no go, setting things up for the Penguins to invest at forward.
“We’re extremely excited about these young defensemen,” associate general manager Jason Botterill told reporters Saturday at the draft in Philadelphia. “Brian Dumoulin. Scott Harrington. Simon Despres…… It’s time for them to get an opportunity.”
The Penguins wishlist on Tuesday is to sign three forwards, a top-6/top-9 type player, two 4th line players, and they are at least doing some due diligence on free agent goaltenders, league sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
Going young on the blueline sounds great, but if the Penguins stand pat like they are expected to, there will be lots of question marks behind Paul Martin and Kris Letang with Olli Maatta’s status up in the air for the first couple months of the season due to shoulder surgery.
There could be some growing pains with this group.
The team could still look to add a cheap No. 6/No. 7 type defenseman like a Brett Bellemore.
CURRENT DEPTH CHART
Paul Martin – Kris Letang
Olli Maatta (Inj, shoulder surgery) – Robert Bortuzzo
Simon Despres – Rob Scuderi
Scott Harrington – Brian Dumoulin
*Despres, Samuelsson will be subject to waivers…….Dumoulin, Harrington can be send down to minors without having to clear waivers.