With free agent signing period starting tomorrow, what does this mean for Pens in 13?
With the ink on the contracts for Malkin, Letang, Kunitz, Dupuis, and Bylsma now drying, where are the Penguins as a team heading into the 2013-2014 season?
Currently, Craig Adams, Matt Cooke, Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, and Mark Eaton can talk to other teams, and can sign elsewhere tomorrow afternoon. We are currently negotiating with Adams and Cooke (and I hope Adams is the priority there, since he is a solidifying force on our fourth line and can always be counted on when killing penalties...he seems to be the exact type of player than Bylsma was when he played and can be somewhat of a coach on the ice). Hopefully, another signing or two are able to happen with the cap reduced down into the $64 million range (because only Dupuis' new contract kicks in immediately...the others don't start until next season, when it is assumed that the cap should rise again).
But without taking any of those guys into account, it looks like our top two offensive lines are set in stone, but the bottom two lines have some question marks.
Or, if you prefer, Jokinen could be the 4th line center with Vitale moving up to a 3rd line winger. Re-signing Cooke would solve that, but that's still up in the air. As mentioned earlier, I'd prefer Adams if I had to choose between the two, meaning the Zolnierczyk could start out in W-B/S and be a potential injury call up as a 3rd or 4th liner. After we gave Jeffrey a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent, I'd imagine he'd take the Tyler Kennedy role, who was traded to San Jose for a 2nd round pick.
On defense, we have:
With Bortuzzo also in the fold, since he was given a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent.
In net, there is Fleury and Vokoun again, with Zatkoff and Hartzell likely splitting duties between the pipes in Wilkes-Barre.
With Scuderi returning, things change quickly. We are now about $800K under the cap for the 13-14 season (and Shero likes to keep about a million in reserve in case of unforeseen in-season happenings). There is a clause in the new CBA that allows teams to go 10% over the cap in the summertime, provided that they are cap-compliant by the start of the actual season (so we could still sign someone like Craig Adams now, even if that made us go over the cap for the time being, but then we'd have to make another move later, like, say, trading away Deryk Engelland, for example).
Now, we'll likely keep the successful Orpik-Martin pair together and team Scuderi up with Letang (Scuds spent a lot of time paired with Drew Doughty in LA, and Doughty shares a lot of Letang's offensive-minded qualities), meaning that Niskanen and Depres would be your final defensive pairing (with Engelland and Bortuzzo on the outside looking in). We have more quality defensemen than forwards (other than our top 6, which is pretty much set as I noted in my previous post). If we don't trade Engelland, might we try to convert him into a 4th line winger? Teams have been successful with versatile forward/defensemen before (like Dustin Byfuglian and Brent Burns), and we would only have to count on him for 8 or 9 minutes of ice time as a 4th line forward as opposed to 14 or 15 minutes as a 3rd pair defensemen (and, since he is a fighter, it also wouldn't hurt as much to have a 4th line winger spending 5 minutes in the box after a bout as opposed to one of your 6 defensemen). Just a thought.