Share This Page

Shero at work with Pens' potential free agents

That time of year has started for Penguins general manager Ray Shero.

With the NHL free-agent period set to open July 1, Shero said Monday his talks with the Penguins' impending unrestricted free agents will kick into gear this week.

"We're kind of getting started at this point, just like we get started at this point every year," he said.

Shero is aware that of his eight players set for unrestricted status, two are of heated interest among fans — top defenseman Sergei Gonchar and third-line left wing Matt Cooke.

Though Shero's policy is not to discuss contract negotiations during the process, he has held preliminary discussions with representatives for Gonchar and Cooke. Both players have said their preference is to remain with the Penguins.

Gonchar's agent, JP Barry, said there was nothing new to report about his client's future with the Penguins. Cooke's agent, Pat Morris, could not be reached for comment.

Uncertainty regarding the salary-cap ceiling for next season is not a significant factor in talks with any potential free agent, Shero said. He added the deadline for a final cap number is June 30.

The Penguins are at around $45 million for 15 NHL regulars set to return next season. Commissioner Gary Bettman said during the Stanley Cup Final he expects the cap to get about a $2 million boost from its 2009-10 ceiling ($56.8 million).

The Penguins eligible for unrestricted status include four defensemen and four wingers who combined for a $16.7 million cap hit last season.

The upcoming free-agent class is considered defense-heavy and loaded with proven veterans such as Gonchar. The crop of wingers — always of interest for Penguins fans given the club's long-term deals with centerpiece centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal — is considered the weakest since the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

Notes: The Penguins re-signed defenseman Steve Wagner to a one-year contract. He would make $500,000 on the two-way contract if he plays in the NHL. Wagner was acquired Feb. 11 from St. Louis in exchange for defenseman Nate Guenin. ... Shero on defenseman Brooks Orpik, who underwent sports hernia surgery last Friday: "We knew about it near the end of the (regular) season. It was one of those things that wasn't great for him, but with injuries in the playoffs, you've got to play through it. He'll be ready for training camp."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.