Penguins free agency update.


With just a few days left until the big free agency blowout, the Pittsburgh Penguins are getting their ducks in line. After hearing plenty of discussion about whether or not who will and will not return, I have come to a closer understanding of what the Penguins plan on doing in free agency.

With a large portion of the Pittsburgh Penguin forwards UFA’s or RFA’s, the Pens are expected to have a very busy week.  While Craig Adams and Nick Johnson are signed, the rest of the bunch are still unsigned.

 At least one player has already made up his mind in Max Talbot who will be testing free agency this season.  Max was given a three year offer of an unspecified amount and turned down the offer because Max was looking for a five year deal.  This news was tough to take for many Pens fans as Max is a home grown talent. A late round draft pick that has become a fan favorite over his time here and still holds the only two goals in a game 7 Stanley Cup of two years ago.  Unfortunately for many Pens fans, Max will not make it out of the free agency. His playoff experience and versatility will most likely land him somewhere else.

Both Mike Rupp and Pascal Dupuis are looking to land a deal before Friday, but according to reports the Pens are not even in the ballpark of a deal.  Both Rupp and Dupuis have the same agent in Allan Walsh and news from both sides does not look good.  The big picture here though is that the Pens are much more likely to resign Dupuis than Talbot, while Rupp is still a tossup. Dupuis brings the most to the table out of these three with his experience playing with Crosby as well as his excellent penalty killing ability.

The two RFA’s in the Penguins lineup are Dustin Jeffrey and Tyler Kennedy.  Dustin Jeffrey will be receiving an increased deal when he returns from his knee injury and is expected to be ready for camp. The young player has really shown growth over the past season. He bulked up and improved his game to become a great all around skater.  He plays all three forward positions and is expected to be transferred to right wing (the real position Pittsburgh is missing). 

Tyler Kennedy on the other hand is in limbo.  As of 6/27 he became an UFA when the Penguins did not make an offer.  The reasoning is simple, but unfortunately many will not understand the reasoning.  Kennedy is coming off of a 750,000 dollar deal, but recently scored 20 goals and over 40 points.  He and his agent are looking for a much larger pay day, but the Pens know better than to take him to arbitration and have him steal a 2 to 2.5 million dollar contract. He will most likely be signed by Friday, but if he is not signed, the pens will no longer receive any compensation.

Enough of the boring stuff, the Pens are entering free agency with roughly 8 million dollars to spend.  When I wrote an article earlier on their free agency, I only expected the cap to raise one to two million.  With that number now much higher than expected, there are plenty of free agents the Pens should be targeting.  With exactly 7,912,500 to spend before the cap is reached, the Penguins have plenty of options out there.

The Penguins have been in the heart of the Jaromir Jagr race this offseason and if Mario has any say so, Jagr is going to wear the black and gold for one final season.  Coach Dan Bylsma has also praised Jagr, claiming in an interview that Jagr is “on front burner and a top priority”.  While I would only want him to sign a deal worth about 1.5 million, it is only reasonable to guess that Jagr will be getting a 2 million dollar deal or more. 

Depending on the Jagr signing, there is one other right winger that has really interested me lately.  There has been so much talk about Jagr that many aren’t paying attention to another Czech that is currently a UFA.  Phoenix’s right winger Radim Vrbata is a former/current teammate of Pens defenseman and Czech Zbynek Michalek.  Michalek has spoken volumes of Vrbata and is urging the Penguins to sign him.  The right winger is not a high profile player, but this helps the Penguins a lot in trying to lure him over. He could finally be the right winger that Sidney Crosby deserves.

While some other players such as veterans Erik Cole and Jamie Langenbrunner could be considered for right wing, they both carry their own problems.  Cole has been overhyped for a while now and could be looking at a deal somewhere around 3.5 to 4 million. Langenbrunner would be cheaper to sign, but he is now 35 and has never played in an offensive system like Pittsburgh.

Vrbata is a guy that I personally would like to see the Penguins sign and since his stock is not too high, the Pens might get away with him signing just over his current 3 million dollar deal. That will leave the Pens with just under 5 million for Jagr, Dupuis, and Kennedy.  If Kennedy and Dupuis finally settle for an expected 1.5 and 1.7 million respectfully, the Pens will have about 1.5 million for Jagr before hitting the cap ceiling.  If Jagr wants more, than he will most likely have to find another job elsewhere.  My only hope is that Jagr will sign for cheaper than expected thanks to Mario and two other Czechs on the team, but hope is just hope. Free agency is going to a lot of fun this year and I hope to update this blog before Friday on the new contract negotiations.

! Crosby and Malkin update !  Malkin has progressed drastically and is already in full training and out of his rehab. Gonchar, who has been chatting with the Pens organization to catch "up no trade rumors", has said that Malkin is stronger and faster than ever. Crosby has been cleared for a few weeks now and is training in his two-a-days under supervision of doctors.  With over 2.5 months till camp, Crosby has plenty of time to just workout and test his limits before heading back to contact. !

!!!! The Pittsburgh Penguins have resigned Pascal Dupuis to a two year deal worth a total of three million. The deal is 200,000 less than I expected Dupuis to sign for. !!!!


George Prax's picture

I think outside of the Jagr sweeps it's going to be a quiet summer in Pittsburgh. Maybe a Cole or a Langenbrunner signing like you said but otherwise re-signing players and plugging holes. Gotta hope Crosby will be ready.

Talbot is a player I want on my time, but he's relatively small for the job he does so I'm not sure if I'd give him five years. Clearly he wants to cash out one last time in his career but five years is a big risk. You know someone's going to give it to him though.

Good blog Chuck.

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Thanks Prax.\

Talbot plays with heart and grit, does the right thing without complaining, he will add alot to a team. Unfortunately, we have cap trouble and just can't sign him for what he wants.

Im adding a Crosby and Malkin update to the bottom right now actually.

I will agree with you that the Pens are going to have a quiet summer, but quiet summers are not always a bad thing.

George Prax's picture

No doubt, if the Pens can win the cup with basically this line-up they'll have no trouble competing again with a healthy Crosby and Malkin. And like I said I like Talbot a lot, and the term seems to be continuing a trend from this off-season of long contracts for depth players, but I just wouldn't take that risk as a GM, not for five years.

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Oh no I get what your saying about Max. He isn't worth siging that big of a deal, years wise.

ItlnStln17's picture

You make really great points here Chuck. I think the Pens should stick with Jeffrey over Kennedy no doubt. Though both have showed significant improvement over the last season, Jeffrey is a more well rounded player, which has tended to be the Penguins style as of late. If they can save money by signing Dustin over Tyler, I think the Pens will be poised to make a few other offers to other UFA's. These deals are vitally important to the playing style which the Penguins have adopted over the years. With the right moves I can see another deep run, maybe even a cup headed to Pittsburgh.

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

To me it is not whether they sign one or the other, it is about how much Tyler Kennedy will sign for. If it is a reasonable price, he will return. But if he wants a 3 year deal anywhere even close to 5 million, he is nuts. That would be double his current salary and while he had a good season, his other three consist of 35 points and 25 points, while being very streaky and injury prone.