Friday, June 27, 2008

No Good News - Yet

The Pens' salary cap for the 2008-09 season will be $56.7 million. Evidently, Brooks Orpik wants a bigger cut of it (from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):
The Penguins found out yesterday that they'll be able to spend $56.7 million on players during the coming season. They also learned that they still haven't offered defenseman Brooks Orpik enough of that money to convince him to stay. ..."We did receive an offer, which we turned down," Gross said. "But we're still talking."

This doesn't necessarily mean that Orpik's not going to sign with the Pens. It's likely just the beginning of an offer/counteroffer process for Orpik to see how much money he can squeeze out of Ray Shero and for Shero to see how much of a discount Orpik is willing to take. Still, with all the uncertainty surrounding this team with 12 guys set to become UFAs on Tuesday, it sure would be nice if Orpik signed a contract over this weekend.

Evgeni Malkin, on the other hand, still plans on offering the Penguins a discount, despite the recent decisions made by Marian Hossa and Gary Roberts (also from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):'s personnel plans took a hit when right winger Marian Hossa informed the team he plans to explore free agency July 1, likely shrinking the chances he will re-sign from nominal to pretty much nil.

That almost certainly will bring about a major adjustment to the Penguins' offseason plans, but what it did not change was Malkin's willingness to take a reduced salary -- probably something in the neighborhood of $8.5 million -- for the sake of the franchise.

"Evgeni understands that some players will not stay for many reasons," said J.P. Barry, his agent. "He simply hopes that his approach helps the team either re-sign existing players or bring in new players so they can be one of the best teams in the league.

"We have provided Ray our proposal and I will continue to speak with him this week as he works at putting together the best team possible, given salary-cap constraints."
I've come to the conclusion that even if none of the 12 UFAs re-sign with the Pens this summer (a highly unlikely scenario - I'm sure we'll get to keep at least one, haha!), if we can get a contract extension signed, sealed, and delivered to Geno, this off-season can still be called a success.

The Pens will be okay. Shero has proved time and time again that he knows what's up. He'll be able to fill gaps left by Hossa and (probably) Malone. Just look at what he's done in the past. Last season, Shero brought veteran Robs in to show the very young, inexperienced Penguins what discipline, commitment, and grit really are and how to achieve longevity in the NHL. This season, it was clear Sidney needed a winger capable of capitalizing on his unmatched play-making ability, so Shero orchestrated the coup that scored Hoss at the trade deadline. I have no doubt that Shero will be able to come through for the team again.

[*Sigh*] So let's review what we know so far:
  • Gary Roberts & Kris Beech = basically gone.
  • Ryan Malone & Marian Hossa = one foot out the door.
  • Brooks Orpik = undecided.
  • Jarkko Ruutu = talks are set to begin before July 1.
  • All the rest of the UFAs = ???
  • Evgeni Malkin = more wanted than Osama bin Laden.
Sidney Crosby = A PENGUIN UNTIL 2013.

I guess it's not all bad, eh? ;)

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