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Penguins general manager Shero: I'm not trading Staal

| Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 2:38 p.m.
Penguins center Jordan Staal plays against the Avalanche at Consol Energy Center Nov. 15, 2011. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)
The Penguins' Jordan Staal celebrates his first period goal in front of Devils defenseman Matt Taormina at Consol Energy Center March 25, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
The Penguins' Jordan Staal carries the puck against the Blue Jackets at Consol Energy Center Feb 26, 2012. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)
Chaz Palla/For The Valley Independent
Penguins General Manager Ray Shero is one of three indviduals up for GM of the Year in the NHL.

The numbers suggest keeping Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal together through their prime years will be almost impossible.

General Manager Ray Shero said something entirely different Tuesday.

Shero told the Tribune-Review that he isn't interested in trading Staal, who can become a free agent next summer. Speculation has swirled since April when Staal was asked how the three could remain happy with the Penguins and he responded, “That's a good question.”

Shero painted a different picture.

“He told me he likes it here,” Shero said. “Told me he likes Pittsburgh, likes being a Penguin.”

Staal was Shero's first draft pick in 2006.

There are two questions pertaining to Staal: Will he be satisfied being the third-line center for the duration of his career? And, can the Penguins reasonably sign him — along with Crosby and Malkin — next year while remaining under the salary cap?

The long-term salary cap figures are unknown because of impending CBA negotiations.

Shero didn't get into specifics but made his intentions clear. Teams are inquiring daily about Staal, Shero said, but he remains uninterested in any offer.

“People read the newspapers and so maybe they think he's available,” Shero said. “That stuff is all speculation. I have made it clear to every team that has asked. I don't want to trade Jordan. I'm not listening to offers. I want Jordan here. I want him here for a long time, and that's what I'm going to try to do.”

There is still the possibility Staal could be available at some point this summer. Shero's on-the-record desire to sign him could also be a tactic used to increase possible trade value.

Shero and Staal's agent, Paul Krepelka, have spoken recently. No deal can be signed before July 1, but Shero said it is within NHL rules to discuss generalities of a new contract.

Krepelka was contacted by the Tribune-Review on Tuesday evening but declined comment on Shero's desire to sign Staal.

Shero passionately maintains that he is completely invested in signing Staal, who is getting married Friday.

Attempting to orchestrate a trade while simultaneously working out a contract for Staal would be disingenuous, according to Shero.

“You can't have it both ways,” Shero said. “I can't try to negotiate a contract with Jordan and a trade with another team at the same time. It doesn't work that way. We don't want to trade Jordan. We think we can sign him.”

Shero touched on a couple of other topics.

He confirmed that he has spoken with agent Pat Brisson about Sidney Crosby's contract. The two would like to work out a deal this summer, though so far, talks have only been “general.”

“I sure hope it gets done quickly,” said Shero, who noted that Crosby's ability to make it through the final month of the regular season and playoffs unscathed was comforting to the team and its captain.

Shero also said that he will not engage in contract talks with free agents Steve Sullivan and Arron Asham until after the NHL Entry Draft, which is this weekend in Pittsburgh.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jyohe@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161, Ext. 1975.

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