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Role: Offensive Forward, Goal Scorer
Contract Status: UFA on July 1st
Notables: 27 years old, 5-8, 174 lbs., Left handed shot
Season Stats: 65 games played, 27G, 26A, +13, 88 PIM
Playoff Stats: 12 games played, 2G, 4A, Even, 10 PIM
Ray Shero and company brought in Brett Sterling last July 3rd, adding a proven AHL scorer and perhaps taking a gamble to see if Sterling could make it in the NHL. While he only managed seven games with the big club, he made the most of his time posting five points (2G, 3A) while on recall in February when injuries struck hard to the Penguins forward core.
Still, Sterling led the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in goals (27) and points (53) in 2010-11. But will the unrestricted free agent give the Penguins organization another try? Or will he opt to find a team with a better chance of playing in the NHL?
The small forward has had success in the AHL, namely with the Chicago Wolves. Sterling won the Calder Cup against the Penguins in 2008 and has 170 regular season AHL goals to his credit.
He is the classic "tweener" player, that being dominant in the AHL level but never really stuck in the NHL. Sterling has only played in 26 NHL games and at 27 years old, he might only have one more shot to prove he's capable of being an every day NHL player.
I don't see him re-signing with the Penguins organization. I believe he will test the free agency market in July to see if there are other teams interested and if not he could be headed overseas to cash in on a bigger paycheck. But who knows, Sterling could be wearing the black and gold come September. I guess we will have to wait and see.
Of the other big name unrestricted free agents, three have signed overseas (Steve Wagner, John Curry and Andew Hutchinson), while three remain in question (Brad Thiessen - likely to sign, Tim Wallace and Corey Potter) and one that has decided to re-up with the Pens (Ryan Craig).