Will Rob Scuderi Wave Goodbye To The Penguins?
From our Parade Flickr Group
"What happens is there's only so much pie to go around. For example, if I'm not mistaken, doesn't Malkin go from 3.5 to 8.7? There just goes two more players. It's called math. So depth is really important as much as star power is. But what they've got going for them right now are good players and good players attract good players.
Sometimes when it's a good situation, a good building coming, a good owner, good general manager, maybe you can get guys to come for less."
-- Mike Babcock after game seven
Last offseason several Pittsburgh Penguins players became casualties of the salary cap.
Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Jarko Ruutu and Georges Laraque were allowed to leave the Pens.
All of them left for monetary reasons. In the salary cap world NHL general managers have to make difficult decisions.
Every season teams lose players that they would have liked to keep. With the current economy it looks like the salary cap will hold steady this year and decrease in 2011. This means that Ray Shero, like the other 29 GMs in the NHL, will need to make some difficult financial decisions this summer.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2009 UFAs
|Player||2008/2009 Cap Hit|
|Ruslan Fedotenko||$2.25 million|
|Bill Guerin||$4.5 million|
|Miroslav Satan||$3.5 million|
|Petr Sykora||$2.5 million|
|Philippe Boucher||$2.5 million|
|Hal Gill||$2.075 million|
|Mathieu Garon||$1.1 million|
Pittsburgh Penguins 2009 RFAs
|Player||2008/2009 Cap Hit|
Salaries via NHLNumbers.com
Looking at those lists, a couple of things become immediately evident.
First of all, not all of those players will spend the next season in Pittsburgh. Players like Taffe, Minard, James and Pesonen only played in the NHL for a cup of coffee last season. The Penguins have 15 full time players under contract for next season, including Alex Goligoski who was just re-signed. They will not require the services of everyone listed and some of those players will play primarily in the AHL next season.
Secondly, the Penguins will not be able to afford all of the players listed above. The Pens have about $48 million in salary committed for next season. If the salary cap remains close to where it was last season, as it is expected to do, that will set it somewhere around the $56 million mark. That leaves the Penguins with about $8 million in cap space.
Even if every player listed above decided that they did not want a raise and signed for exactly what they made last season, the Penguins would not be able to afford them all. Some of those players will be wearing different jerseys next season.
So which players will remain?
It is pretty obvious that Rob Scuderi will be looking at the biggest raise this offseason. His cap hit last year was just over $700,000. That's a bigger bargain than finding a copy of Sudden Death in the dollar bin at Wal-Mart. His work in the playoffs alone should net him a big raise. If Scuderi goes on the open market there will likely be several teams that will throw money at him. There will be at least one team that offers him Jeff Finger money. Obviously the Penguins cannot afford to get into a bidding war. Their best chance to sign him will be to do so before free agency begins on July 1st. It will be up to "The Piece" to decide if he wants to do so.
Of course, Scuderi isn't the only potential free agent Ray Shero may be looking to sign before July 1st. Ruslan Fedotenko, Bill Guerin, Miroslav Satan, Petr Sykora and Hall Gill are the other "big name" players that will be seeking new contracts this summer.
At least one or two players on that list will be allowed to walk away from the Penguins.
Petr Sykora slumped badly in the last few months of the season and sat out for most of the playoffs. That could mean that he will command a smaller salary next season. That could also mean the Penguins will not be interested in bringing him back next year. The same can be said for Miroslav Satan. He was signed last summer to play alongside Sidney Crosby but, after a stint in the AHL, he finished the playoffs on the fourth line. There are also rumors that both players have received offers from KHL teams. Their agent, Alan Walsh, has denied those rumors.
Ruslan Fedotenko and Bill Guerin both proved to be very valuable in the playoffs. It remains to be seen if the Penguins can sign both players. Guerin especially will need to take a pay cut if he wants to remain in Pittsburgh. Hal Gill may end up being a cap casualty as well.
Obviously, no one knows what will happen. Ray Shero likely has a list of what he hopes for and each player also has next season in mind. Some will choose to bask in the glory of the Stanley Cup and accept lower salaries to remain on the Penguins while others will attempt to turn their recent successes into a big pay days.
Some players who spent the majority of the 2008-2009 season in the AHL may be called up on a more permanent basis. Alex Goligoski did not sign a three-year, $5.5 million contract to play in Wilkes-Barre next year. If team management and the coaching staff feel that other members of the baby Penguins (such as Luca Caputi or Ben Lovejoy) are ready to enter the NHL full-time next season, some current Penguins could find themselves expendable.
The Penguins may also choose to free up cap space through trades or replace departing players will cheaper alternatives via free agency.
Whatever choices are made this offseason, the Pittsburgh Penguins will likely look quite different when they set out to defend the Stanley Cup next season. As we saw last summer, Ray Shero will not hestitate to make difficult decisions when it comes to remaining under the cap while staying competitive.
In Shero We Trust.
EDIT: Update City