We’re a week away from NHL general managers making it rain on unrestricted free agents. Come July 1, anyone without a contract is officially on the market. With the Penguins’ current cap situation, Ray Shero is probably going to be about as busy in free agency as he was at the Trade Deadline.
Good news for Pens fans though is all of the assets the Pens need are locked up at least until next year. Shero has made qualifying offers to every RFA of any significance, which means see you later Alexandre Picard and Boris Valabik, thanks for stopping by. All Shero has to worry about now are some role-playing veterans that are about to become UFA’s. Like should he re-sign Steve Sullivan or wait for Jagr Watch Part Duex to really heat up and get Pens fans all worked up again? Or maybe he should just slap the hockey gods in the face and get Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to pull a LeBron/D-Wade move and come to the Burgh to be together.
Here’s a look at the Pens’ UFAs and their futures in the Burgh.
Arron Asham (34)(2012 salary: $775K) - One cross-check to Brayden Schenn’s face and all of sudden Asham was too dirty to be a Penguin? What’s up with that? Until that point, he was the Pens’ No. 1 enforcer, and he was the only offensive fighter that was capable of doing something other than fighting. He’s got a hell of a slapper and can skate well enough to drive the net. He’s getting up there in age so there’s no problem sitting him until a rivalry game comes around when he’ll actually be needed. SIGN HIM UP.
Ryan Craig (30)(2012 salary: $525K) - Hopefully by now Craig has realized he’s not going to be an NHLer. What he can be is the Baby Pens’ captain for as long as he wants. He’s an AHL leader and a decent depth guy and after an 18-point drop off from last season, he should be easy to resign. SIGN HIM UP.
Steve MacIntyre (31)(2012 salary: $600K) - Remember how excited Pens fans were when they heard Shero was replacing Eric Godard with Big Mac? How disappointed were they when they realized they got the exact same player? Other than Big Mac losing his mind in WBS, he’s pretty much a waste at the NHL level. And with guys like MacIntyre a dying breed in the NHL, maybe it’s time the Pens take a break from heavyweight enforecers. SEE YA.
Colin McDonald (27)(2012 salary: $525K) - He led the Baby Pens in scoring for the early part of the year and was even an AHL All-Star…not too shabby. He’s got enough skill to probably crack a third line somewhere in the league but if he’s willing to stick around in WBS, why not try to resign the Baby Pens’ third-leading scorer with 49 points (14 G, 35 A)in 68 games? SIGN HIM UP.
Richard Park (36)(2012 salary: $550K) – We loved having Ricky Park back in the Burgh this year but the Pens are pretty full on the PK depth chart and that’s really all Park brings to the table. When he played he wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t good, he was just kind of there. SEE YA.
Steve Sullivan (37)(2012 salary: $1.5M) - This is probably going to be Shero’s toughest free agency decision this offseason…and not just because people are going to compare his numbers as a Pen to Jagr’s post-KHL stats. Sully wants to come back and he proved he could be productive if he stays healthy – he put up 48 points (17 G, 31 A) in 79 games – but he’s the most expensive UFA the Pens have and can he really stay healthy two years in a row? He hasn’t done that since ’02-’03. This one all rides on whether or not Shero can get Parise, Ryan or Nash to Pittsburgh. If he does, there’s no room for a 37-year-old PP QB. You know what? SEE YA.
Jason Williams (31)(2012 salary: $600K) - Williams was solid in the AHL but the whole reason he signed with the Pens was to prove he still had some game left in him. Guess the 8 games he played in the NHL was enough to prove what he could do…or lack thereof. He already signed with HC Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss National League A. Sooo…SEE YA.
Brent Johnson (35)(2012 salary: $600K) - Hahaha signing Vokoun pretty much guaranteed we’ve seen the last of Johnny in a Pens’ uniform. Even if Vokie wasn’t here now, after the year Johnny had (6-7-2, 3.11 GAA, .883 SV%), the Pens would be better off promoting Thies Knees full-time. The Pens need a backup that can give Fleury a break AND still give the team a chance to win. SEE YA.
Brad Thiessen (26)(2012 salary: $525K) - Bylsma loves this kid and he’s still only 26, and in goalie years that means he’s still got some improving to do. Even if he doesn’t turn out to be the Pens’ back-up of the future, Thies Knees could turn out to be a great piece of trade bait. And he’ll give the Baby Pens great goaltending in the meantime. SIGN HIM UP.