Are big changes coming for the Penguins? Could the Flyers move some forwards? Read on for the latest.
What next for the Penguins?
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Ron Cook reports Penguins CEO/president Ron Morehouse said general manager Jim Rutherford, head coach Mike Johnston and superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will return next season. Morehouse claims ownership has never given any consideration to replacing Rutherford and Johnston, while the club intends to build around their core players, led by Crosby and Malkin. He also cited the injuries which decimated the Penguins defense corps for the club’s failure to advance past the first round this season.
Dave Molinari reports the Penguins lineup is “top-heavy with high-priced, elite talent, which limits the salary-cap space to flesh out the major league roster.” He notes the club’s “win-now” mentality means there’s little top-end talent in their pipeline. The Penguins could use the $15.5 million in savings from not re-signing their UFAs to shop for top-line wingers this summer, though there’s no guarantee they’ll find what they seek via free agency. It could force Rutherford to shop for help via trade. Molinari doubts there’s much of a trade market for wingers Chris Kunitz and David Perron, who faded over the second half of the season. Rutherford could be forced to use one or more of his promising young defensemen as trade bait, though such a move could weaken their blueline depth if they lose Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff to free agency.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Rob Rossi believes the Penguins should try to re-sign defenseman Paul Martin, suggesting he’ll help make the club better. Rossi claims GM Jim Rutherford has yet to open contract negotiations with Martin, who’s eligible for UFA status in July. The healthy issues of Kris Letang and Olli Maatta are another reason to retain Martin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The problem for the Penguins is they have limited cap space for next season (maybe over $12 million if the cap only rises to $70 million) and their few tradeable assets are those promising young defensemen in their system. Chris Kunitz is an ageing asset who’s seen better days. Pascal Dupuis might never play again because of blood clots, but if he does he’s 36 and his best days are in the past. Perron proved to be a disappointment, which won’t improve his trade value. If they’re not trading Crosby or Malkin, pursuing affordable free agents and perhaps shopping one of their good young defensemen in hopes of landing a scorer seems their only viable options of improving the lineup.
Which Flyers forwards could be trade bait?
CSNPHILLY.COM: Tim Panaccio recently examined the Philadelphia Flyers forward depth. Noting the Flyers shedding top forwards in the recent past (Jeff Carter, Mike Richards), Panaccio doesn’t rule out captain Claude Giroux being dealt if a blockbuster trade presented itself. He believes the Flyers will try again to trade fading, unhappy center Vincent Lecavalier, and speculates Brayden Schenn could be dealt this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Paul Holmgren was still the Flyers GM I could buy into the theory of Claude Giroux as a trade candidate. I don’t believe current GM Ron Hextall operates that way. Hextall will try to move Lecavalier and could consider trading Schenn if it’ll land him a top-two defenseman.