Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pens GM Fred Shero goes Downsizing

It seems new Penguins GM Fred Shero has been busy preparing his roster for next season by making some unkind cuts.

From PittsburghLive.com
"If I qualify everybody and bring all those guys back, I don't see the chance to get better," Shero said after declining to extend qualifying offers to 11 Group II restricted free agents including forwards Andy Hilbert, Konstantin Koltsov and Tomas Surovy, who all finished the year on the Penguins' roster. "There has to be some change. Now at least I can start to rebuild a little."

The decision not to qualify Hilbert, Koltsov and Surovy came in part because all three were eligible for arbitration, Shero said, and because agents for all three players are seeking one-way contracts. Those players not given qualifying offers now become unrestricted free agents. While it's possible that Shero could negotiate with them as UFAs at a later date, that scenario appears unlikely.

Hilbert, 25, was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks on March 9. He finished the year playing on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Armstrong and had 18 points in 19 games with the Penguins, including a five-game point streak (two goals, five assists) to end the season. He also played for the United States at the World Championship tournament in Latvia, totaling three points in seven games.

Surovy, 24, also played in the World Championship, appearing in seven games for Slovakia and represented his country in the Olympics as well. The Penguins' fifth-round choice (120th overall) in 2001 finished the year with 12 goals and 13 assists in 53 games.

Koltsov, 25, was drafted by the Penguins in the first round (18th overall) in 1999. He had three goals and six assists in 60 games this year.


Koltsov, I can understand. For all of his speed, he's defensively atrocious and doesn't put up a lick of offence. Hilbert? He was doing great when he finally got the chance, and clicked well with Sidney Crosby.

Surovy is also a surprising cut, given his relatively young age and offensive ability. Why are the Penguins just letting go of cheap, young, offensive talent? Surovy is a pretty useful player, and I can't see him getting a very large arbitration award.

Still, one of the hardest parts of being a GM is trimming the fat off of the roster. There are so many similar/marginal players out there and the Penguins don't need so many of them. The Penguins would be best spending some money to get some good free agents, so long as they don't go and spend foolishly to get crud like John LeClair.

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