#Pens In-House Free Agents - What's The Plan?

Saturday, June 29, 2013
Now that the Stanley Cup Finals are over and the 2012-13 season has ended, all 30 NHL teams' focus becomes the NHL Entry Draft and free agency. The Pittsburgh Penguins have quite a bit of decision making ahead of themselves as they prepare to overcome a third round exit from the playoffs.

The biggest decisions to be made will be on what to do with defenseman Kris Letang, who still has one-year left on his contract, and the on-going talks with the agents of free agent forwards Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke and Craig Adams.

The draft is on Sunday, June 30th. The deadline for qualifying restricted free agents is the day after that (July 1st). Free Agency opens July 5th. Time will tell, but a look at the options the Penguins have heading into the summer after the jump.

General Manager Ray Shero has already been quoted as saying the restricted free agents in Pittsburgh, those being forwards Tyler Kennedy, Dustin Jeffrey, Harry Zolnierczyk and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, will all be receiving qualifying offers.

Nothing has been reported about restricted free agents that finished the season in Wilkes-Barre or goaltender Eric Hartzell, but I'd be surprised if they weren't all (except Keven Veilleux) tendered their 110% raise in salary and be in northeast Pennsylvania in the fall.

Those RFA's in the AHL again: Brian Gibbons, Riley Holzapfel, Zach Sill and Paul Thompson.

As for the NHL UFA's in Wilkes-Barre, Dylan Reese and Phil Dupuis have already hopped the pond and are taking their careers to the KHL and DEL, respectively. Chad Kolarik signed a two-year contract in Sweden. That leaves forwards Warren Peters and Trevor Smith as well as goaltender Brad Thiessen as the remaining in-house free agents.

Thiessen has already told reporters he's going to see what the free agent market presents him with. I'll keep my eyes and ears open for any news on the other three and have all the latest when they are signed for next year, regardless of where they end up.

There have been rumblings that Smith is receiving interest from the Hershey, but that's speculation at best. I spoke with Peters yesterday and he didn't seem to be ruling out a return to the Penguins, expressing that he is hoping for a resolution for next season sooner rather than later. Whether or not that means he'd like to be re-signed and avoid free agency has yet to be seen.

There are several reports that the Penguins are in talks with free agent forwards Craig Adams, Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis but the most publicized Penguins news of the last few weeks has been centered around defenseman Kris Letang and whether he and the Pens can agree on a contract extension.

The possibilities are endless. Will the Penguins pull the trigger on another draft day blockbuster? Can the Penguins extend Letang for eight years? What will come out of talks with the other free agent forwards? All these questions will soon be answered.

Tomorrow is the NHL Entry Draft. Right now, the Penguins don't have a pick of their own until the third round. That could certainly change, but either way I'll have plenty of stuff on the guys that the Penguins draft this year.

Stay tuned next week for the deadline to qualify restricted free agents (Monday) and I'm sure to have some more up on the blog leading up to the beginning of Free Agency on Friday.


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