Penguins notebook: Offseason extensions unlikely for Fleury, Martin
PHILADELPHIA – A busy Penguins offseason is unlikely to include contract extensions for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Paul Martin.
Each player is set to enter the final year of his current contract and can sign an extension at the official start of the new NHL season Tuesday.
The Penguins are optimistic they will eventually sign Fleury to a new deal, but talks with his representatives are unlikely to intensify before the regular season. General manager Jim Rutherford has said he is a fan of Fleury, who has won at least 35 games in six of nine seasons since assuming the No. 1 goalie position.
Fleury, 29, has expressed a strong desire to remain with the Penguins. He currently carries at $5 million salary-cap hit.
Martin, 33, also has a $5 million cap hit — and he was rated by the previous coaching staff as the Penguins' top defenseman the past two seasons.
However, the Penguins believe Martin prefers to test free agency next summer. Also, Rutherford believes it is time to start playing the most NHL-ready among the franchise's crop of top defensive prospects.
Kris Letang is not in play.
Rutherford said Saturday that Letang, soon to become the Penguins' top-paid defenseman, has not been offered to clubs in trade talks.
Letang, 27, is set to enter the first season of an eight-year contract that will count $7.25 million annually against the cap. He signed the contract last summer.
The contract includes a clause that allows Letang to submit a list of 12 teams to which he could be traded. Letang is required to submit a list before the start of each season, but the teams can change from year to year.
Though early in his assessment of players, Rutherford has identified Letang as the anchor for a defense corps that will include many young players going forward.
The new Sarge
Newly acquired Patric Hornqvist is expected to do more than just score dirty goals as a top-six winger. The Penguins believe he could fill a role left by the departure of defenseman Sergei Gonchar four years ago.
Management believes Hornqvist to possess leadership qualities that include high character, toughness and a presence that commands respect. Hornqvist, an alternate captain with Nashville, is also said to have a calming influence on teammates.
Bringing calmness to the team — especially centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin — is a priority for the Penguins going forward. Crosby and Malkin have each cited Gonchar's penchant for being a steadying force as a key factor in the Penguins' winning eight of 11 playoff series from 2007-10.
Hornqvist and forward Nick Spaling were acquired in exchange for winger James Neal on Friday.
Spaling, a restricted free agent, said he believes his representatives will work out a deal with the Penguins. He is projected as a third- or fourth-line forward.
Talk to me
New coach Mike Johnston took a hands-off approach to the Penguins' Entry Draft work, though he has tackled a few tasks since taking the job Wednesday.
Johnston said he has spoken with Crosby, but added that some Penguins players have been difficult to reach by phone.
Also, Johnston said he plans to hire an assistant coach within 7-8 days. Travis Green, Johnston's assistant with Portland of the Western Hockey League, is a top contender to join the Penguins' staff.
Johnston said he plans to stay mostly quiet when free agency opens Tuesday. He will add input only if he “knows the player” management is targeting.
Day 2 picks
The Penguins finished the NHL draft without trading away any of their picks. They also did not acquire a selection.
Without a selection in the second and third rounds Saturday, the Penguins took three forwards and a defenseman in Rounds 4-7. Winger Sam Lafferty, the fourth-round selection (113th overall), is from Hollidaysburg.
The Penguins selected five players at the 2014 draft, and four were forwards. They had taken 24 forwards among 50 players selected in eight previous drafts under former general manager Ray Shero.
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