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Insider Only With Cap crunch coming, Penguins starting to see a small reward from Ray Shero’s draft classes


The Penguins giving out two year extensions to Scott Wilson, Tom Kuhnhackl and Bryan Rust Monday was a situation of the ‘player’ getting the security of a one-way contract in return for taking maybe $50,000 or so less if they would have been tendered this summer.

From the Penguins standpoint, even if all three players have peaked, the Penguins need cheap bottom-6 forwards if they are going to continue with the same core they have.

Including the retained salary from the Rob Scuderi trade, Pittsburgh has $67,918,333 committed to 18 players for next season and there are serious concerns among NHL General Manager’s that the salary cap will stay the same or even drop to the $67-$68 million range if the players don’t accept the 5% escalator which they often accept.

Forwards on 1-way contracts: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kunitz, Eric Fehr, Nick Bonino, Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl, Scott Wilson

Defensemen on 1-way contracts: Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Ian Cole, Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta

Goaltenders: Marc Andre Fleury, Matt Murray (2-way contract).

Ray Shero’s drafts produced a lack of high end talent, notably top-6 forwards, but as some in the organization say, you can’t judge a draft until six, even seven or eight years later.

It’s taken a while and the Penguins are now getting a slew of bottom-6 caliber players emerge around the same time in the likes of Rust, Kuhnhackl, Wilson (team feels there’s some top-6 upside there with Wilson) and you can add Oskar Sundqvist to that group who would be getting more consideration this season if a Nick Bonino wasn’t in the way. Josh Archibald could also join this group by next season as an option to play a role, along with a Domink Simon, a Rutherford draft pick.

These players might not be good enough to get the Penguins to the next level but it’s a better situation for the Penguins to now be in than the alternative with plugging players like Max Lapierre, Zach Sill, Craig Adams and Tanner Glass in there.

With a cap crunch coming, the Penguins are starting to see a small reward from the Shero drafts with the opportunity to plug cheap bottom-6 forwards into the mix. Mid-to-late round picks like Rust, Wilson are good examples of that.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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