Penguins Free Agency Blog

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                By now everyone knows that the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season came to a disappointing end with a 1-0 loss in game 7 on home ice to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, April 27.  Though the Penguins blew a 3-1 series lead, they still had a successful season.  It was an incredible run for a team of players who all stepped up at one time or another to fill the void of their two biggest scorers, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury who played lights out for most of the second half of the season.  It was a tremendous job by the Penguins’ staff and head coach Dan Bylsma, as proven by his nomination for the NHL coach of the year award.  Now it is time for General Manager Ray Shero to earn his paycheck with a slew of tough decisions this offseason.

                Pascal Dupuis, Max Talbot, Alex Kovalev, Arron Asham, Craig Adams, Mike Rupp, Chris Conner, Eric Godard, Mike Comrie, and Nick Johnson are now free agents.  While it seems the Pens will not have a problem parting with Godard, Comrie, and Johnson, many of the other decisions will be very tough.  If Alex Kovalev does not retire, Shero will have to decide if it is worth keeping him around for another year.  Conner, Adams, and Rupp will probably not be hard for the Pens to resign, but what about the more expensive players?  Max Talbot is a fan favorite and great locker room presence, but his production on the ice this year simply did not match up to his salary and he might have to take a pay cut to stay.  Asham has certainly proved his worth with a tremendous playoff series but his price tag may be too high as well.  The most important player to re-sign is probably Pascal Dupuis but he will also be the most expensive.  He will probably be offered more than his current $1.4 million per year salary from another team and it will be interesting to see if the Pens will match that.  It will also be interesting to see who Ray Shero will try to acquire this summer.  There are current rumors of a Jagr reunion to end his illustrious career, but only time will tell if that becomes a fact.

                Regardless of what moves the Penguins make this summer, their two biggest additions to the team next season will be the return of Crosby and Malkin.  With them on the ice, this team is as talented as any in the NHL.  This season, without them, the Penguins proved that they are also one of the hardest working teams driven by one of the best coaches.  With this combination and a healthy team, the sky is the limit for the 2011-2012 Pittsburgh Penguins.