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The Penguins, Free Agency, and You.


When you get a dog, you start it off on a routine. Reading puppy books and the like, you develop a cycle to get it house trained. Wake up early, feed the dog, take it for a walk. You repeat that process for like a month, and the dog is trained. That is the system in developing your dog. You find it, perfect it, and use it on all the other dogs you get. We only wish training women was the same kind of deal.
Occasionally the dog will shit on your pillow, much like women do. But with every passing year, the dog starts to play the system, and it dominates. Victoria Stillwell would be out of a job if everyone did this system to a "T".
If you don't develop the dog, it becomes the Atlanta Thrashers.
There is poop everywhere and the next thing you know you're trading in your big time dog for a pet rat..
The maturation of a dog is much like being a general manager of an NHL team.
You have to come in with a plan.
You have to use it no matter what, perfect it each off-season, and then use it over and over.
Over the last three off-seasons, Ray Shero has had a plan.
He has used it.
And he has perfected it.
We take a look at where the Pens stand this year going into the Free Agent circus.
P.S. — C-Blog ran into this issue last year, and we have already failed.
But we are bringing the Grammar Hammer™ down.
Resigns = Quits
Re-Signs = Signs again.
Rick did a great job of taking the initial look at the Penguins free agents early this month.
As it stands right now, the Penguins cap number is 51.2 million dollars.
Here is who is signed:
Salaries via NHLNumbers.com
That leaves the Pens cap space at:
Pens free agents:

Pittsburgh Penguins 2009 UFAs

Player 2008/2009 Cap Hit
Ruslan Fedotenko $2.25 million
Miroslav Satan $3.5 million
Petr Sykora $2.5 million
Mike Zigomanis $650,000
Connor James $500,000
Chris Minard $500,000
Janne Pesonen $875,000
Jeff Taffe $550,000
Bill Thomas $525,000
Philippe Boucher $2.5 million
Hal Gill $2.075 million
Rob Scuderi $713,000
Mathieu Garon $1.1 million

Let's address this first, because it is confusing.
Take Alex Goligoski's contract as the example.
It is a one-way deal. Meaning the contract counts against the Penguins cap.
But take these two:
These salaries do not count against the Pens cap, unless they are with the Penguins at the time.
So guys like Lovejoy, Curry, and whoever else is in Wilkes Barre, their contracts aren't as big of deals.
If there is anything we have learned about Ray Shero, it's that he is a patient man.
If you have visions of Havlat, Gaborik, or any big-time free agent, kill yourself.
This goes without staying most of the time, but why not just say it.
Malkin and Crosby are better than every single free agent out there now…and for the next 15 years.
Most fans know this. The ones that don't know that, need to be told. Maybe even assaulted.
The Penguins just won the Stanley Cup.
They clinched all four series on the road.
They won two Game 7s.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a tougher road than that to the Cup.
And guess what?
All of it was done without "a winger for Sid."
See what the Red Wings did to Crosby's line?
They completely eliminated it.
Expect every Western Conference representative to do the same thing.
A winger for Sid is nice during the regular season.
But silent acquisitions of Craig Adams and Fedotenko is what made hay in the playoffs.
Let's look at Shero's free-agent pick-ups and players let go of the past:


No clue who Andrew Penner is.
Shero also made some deal for Dominick Moore and the immortal Nils Ekman.
All we remember is that Moore scored two goals against Philly in the '06-'07 opener. And disappeared.
And Ekman cut himself, left the rink, and the Pens got a penalty.
Free agents that left:
That would be a bad dek-hockey team, even.


Sykora may have been Shero's best free-agent signing to date. What a player.
Free Agents that left:


Did the best on a backup plan. Gods is a way better enforcer than BGL ever was.
Pens also re-signed Brooks Orpik.
Free Agents that peaced out:
Malone has become the poster boy of taking the money, running, and then wanting back. What a mistake.
Really can't say any of those players were missed.
Although we guess there is some LGP poster who hates Shero 'cause he let Kurtis McLean walk.
So the Pens have 5.7 million left to spend.
They have to sign at least two forwards, and two defenseman and a backup goalie. Not to mention minor league guys contracts need wrapped up.
Like we said, Patch Adams has been re-signed. So has Guerin.
Hal Gill is gone, so is Boucher and Satan. Sykora is on the fence.
Garon, maybe.

Ruslan Fedotenko

In the regular season he was solid. A lot of people were expecting some 30-goal, 70 point season.
Based on his career it was normal.
Tenk made his mark on everyone in the playoffs. He was clutch. And that is everything.
Now where is the cash money range.
Based on his playoffs, he may garner a bigger payday.
He made 2.25 million last year.
Can't see the Pens going higher than 2.25 million again. Yes, he had a great playoff, but you have to be realistic.
Give him a multi-year, maybe three years? Back load it, or bonuses.
Can't go higher than 2.5.
Something tells us, if someone is walking, it is him.
Though Hockey Buzz's [Brian Metzer] as a great comparsion:

Ruslan Fedotenko and the Penguins are reminding me of high school love interests…you know, the on again off again kind. Each side has made it known to everyone in the "cafeteria" that they "really like one another" and would love to "get back together." The bad thing is that they are telling each other…they are locked in a negotiation that could see Tank get to July 1st and onto another roster. Speaking from experience in these types of romances, they should get it done. Being stubborn only causes regret in the long run…why risk that when they know there is a deal to be made. Talks will continue as we barrel towards 7/1/09.


Petr Sykora

Look, Petr Sykora is pretty much our favorite player.
Scoring 25 goals in the NHL is a big deal. And Sykora has done that over the last two season.
Now, Sykora fell into a horribe slump at the end of the year that led to his benching in the playoffs.
Game 5, in Detroit. MAF gets pulled. In the runway, Sykora finds him, and says "We all love you, hang in there," or something to that effect.
To us, you can't buy shit like that.
Sykora stays, if Tenk leaves and the Pens don't see anything better in free agency. Unless he takes a 1 million dollar deal or some shit.

Rob Scuderi

Scuds is what defense is about. A few years ago, who even thought we would be having this dicussion.
What an impossible situation this is.
Scuds is going to test the free agent market. It feels right that he is going to get a deal somewhere in the three million dollar range.
If that happens, he is gone. He said he will keep the Pens informed, and give them the last look.
You have to keep in the mind the following:
Kris Letang is due an extension next year. And he is going to get about four million or so.
Ray Shero isn't going to make a mistake here. If Scuds stays it will be a three year- six million dollar type of deal.
Now comes the interesting part.
Based on what Shero did yesterday, he signed who he wanted.
Even though he doesn't have much to work with, you'd have to think he still wants to see what Free Agency has for him.
Anyone would want to.
You always wonder if there is a player out there on that would take a lesser deal to try and win the cup.
Or even a player who comes in, plays with Malkin for one year, scores 30 goals and cashes in next summer.
Lets play the worst case. Scuds gets a 4 year, 13 million dollar deal from the Rangers or Islanders.
Feds gets a 3 year, 12 million deal from the Bruins or something.
Who do the Pens target.
Here is our best guesses:

Mike Knuble

Wow, vomit city.
Knuble is an all-time Penguin killer as far as we are concerned.
But he would no questioned be welcomed. He is all business in front of the net.
He is a little bit old at 37, but you'd have to think he has a year left.
A few problems.
1. He's probably a dick.
2. He probably wants 3 mil a season.
3. Can he skate with Malkin?
Long odds of this happening.

Steve Sullivan

Sullivan used to be cash money, then he blew his back out.
He came back, won the Masterton trophy, and now is a free agent.
He is 34, he won't command a high salary, and guess who used to be in the same organization as him.
Yea, Ray Shero.
And then there is this unreal video:
How is it we have never saw that.

Ales Kotalik

Typical 20 goal scorer entering the prime of his career.
He was a staple in Buffalo, and knows the Eastern conference. He won't be on a lot of radars to start with.
His cap hit last year was 2.3 million.

Alexei Kovalev

Yea, this is not happening. But it is our duty to talk about at least one of our all time favorite Pens coming back.
And being that Double J isn't, we'll go to Kovy.
No way Kovy wants a paycut, but man those Montreal people are annoying aren't they?
You could go back there, and have all this unreal pressure on you.
Or you could play on a line with Evgeni Malkin, score 40 goals, and win a cup. People wouldn't even notice you.
If the Pens lose Scuds, they are going to have to sign a jobber dman.

Steve Montador

No need to show his stats.
We just want him so we can call him the matador, and photoshop him with a red cloth when he nails people
There is some other guy, but can't remember his name.
Suck it.
Go Pens.