With just three defenseman signed to one way contracts for the 2010-2011 season, there’s some thought around the league that the Penguins need to completely overhaul their defensive corps.
The consensus appears to be that the Penguins should let Sergei Gonchar walk and focus on adding a shutdown defenseman. Last off-season the Penguins let one get away that could have been retained at a much lower price than the current group of shutdown defenseman set to test free agency.
The name that continues to be regarded as a great fit for Pittsburgh is Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis who the Penguins made a play for at the trade deadline. Hamhuis, 27, would fill the role of Rob Scuderi but the cost to sign Hamhuis will likely be over $3.5 million per season and Hamhuis could very well land a new deal in the $4 million + range.
If Pittsburgh shows a willingness this off-season to go after a shutdown type of defenseman that will cost over $3 million per season, it will show that the Penguins could have easily fit Rob Scuderi into their long-term plans.
Scuderi signed a four year deal worth $13.6 million with the Los Angeles Kings and was torn on leaving Pittsburgh last summer.
The belief is that Pittsburgh offered $2 million per season on a multi-year deal and were not close to the Kings offer of $3.4 million per season.
However, a four year offer in the range of $2.75 – $3 million per season would have in all likelihood secured a return to Pittsburgh for Scuderi.
With a strong desire to stay in Pittsburgh and the high cost of living in Los Angeles, $2.75 million per season would have done the trick, according to one source close to Scuderi.
With the need to sign Sergei Gonchar long-term and at least some thought that Gonchar would retire a Penguin, Pittsburgh wasn’t in the position to go beyond the low $2 million range.
Penguins Quick Hits
- The Penguins are under-going their organizational meetings this week as the team lays out their blueprint for next season. Evaluations are being made throughout the organization.
- The Penguins and their scouting staff held extensive meetings on Monday and Tuesday, regarding free agency and the draft, per sources. Following the NHL draft combine this month, most teams have their final draft boards set in place by the first week of June at the latest.
- Under GM Ray Shero, the Penguins follow the Nashville Predators strategy of going with the best player available in the first round but it’s hard to imagine the Penguins not going winger in the first round.
- The Penguins are deep on the blueline and with role players. There is no need to go defense in the first round.
- Pittsburgh has among the worst group of prospects when it comes to top-6 wingers.