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Penguins come to terms with Guerin, Adams

| Tuesday, June 30, 2009

By keeping a couple of wingers Monday, the Penguins left themselves not much of a prayer to retain a trio of key contributors to their Stanley Cup championship squad.

After re-signing veteran wingers Bill Guerin and Craig Adams, Penguins general manager Ray Shero has today to secure the services of other notable players eligible to become unrestricted free agents Wednesday - specifically winger Ruslan Fedotenko and shutdown defense paring Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill.

That won't be easy and might prove impossible.

With Guerin, who signed for one year at $2 million, and Adams, at $1.10 million total over the next two seasons, the Penguins are committed to $51,218,000 for 17 players next season. The NHL salary cap stands at $56.8 million.

"With Craig and Billy, these were deals we wanted to get done because we thought we were close," Shero said. "We've had conversations with the other players' agents, and we'll continue talking through (Wednesday), but right now it's not there — and that's what I said to those agents.

"Some changes are always somewhat good. That doesn't mean we don't want them back, but it's a balancing act."

Fedotenko is leaning toward testing the open market; Scuderi and Gill will surely go that route.

Guerin, 38, and Adams, 32, each joined the Penguins on March 4. Guerin was acquired for a third-round draft pick from the New York Islanders, and Adams was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Both former Cup winners, Guerin and Adams played significant roles on the Penguins' march to their third title and first since 1992.

Guerin finished third on the team with 15 points in the playoffs, proving himself a perfect first-line complement to center Sidney Crosby and left wing Chris Kunitz. Adams scored his first three career playoff goals with the Penguins, and excelled on penalty killing and defensive-zone faceoffs while handling checking-line duties.

Coming to the Penguins, who are steered by a young nucleus that includes Crosby and fellow centers Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, rejuvenated Guerin and Adams.

"You do forget how fun winning can be," said Guerin, whose previous Cup win came with New Jersey in 1995. "All the battle scars and bruises - it feels good. You're laying it all out there. I just had the most fun, playing the game, than I've had in a long, long time."

Adams, a Cup champion with Carolina in 2006, described the role Penguins coach Dan Bylsma assigned him as "absolutely perfect."

"I loved it," he said. "Dan did a great job of spreading ice time around. It was a big part of me coming back, wanting to get a chance to do those things again."

They figure to get that chance, as the Penguins will rate among the best bets to win the Cup in 2010.

Crosby, 21, Malkin, 22, and Staal, 20, are not yet in their primes, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, 24, is only on the verge of joining defenseman Brooks Orpik, 28, in their presumed best years.

Shero wishes all the players who contributed to this Cup run could stick around through his young nucleus' growth but acknowledged "that is not the reality of a salary-cap system."

"We'd like to take care of all of them," he said, "but they're professionals, and we all know that I've got to do what's best for the Penguins, and they've got to do what's best for them and their families.

"The great part is these guys will always be guys that won with the Penguins."

Free-agency update ...

Beat reporter Rob Rossi gives the lowdown on activity between the Penguins and their players who can become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday:

LW Ruslan Fedotenko: No offer yet. He is seeking a multi-year deal. Talks will intensify today, though he is leaning toward testing the market.

D Rob Scuderi: Talks will continue today, but Scuderi will test the market. However, his camp will meet with Penguins one last time before making any final decision. He is seeking a multi-year deal.

D Hal Gill: His situation mirrors that for Scuderi.

C Mike Zigomanis: His camp was actively engaged in talks with Shero, and a deal could be reached before Wednesday.

RW Petr Sykora: No offer. However, the Penguins have not ruled out bringing him back.

RW Miroslav Satan: No offer. His return is unlikely. He will test the market.

D Philippe Boucher: No offer. His fate is tied into Scuderi and Gill. He will test the market.

G Mathieu Garon: No offer. He will test the market.

Additional Information:

Pittsburgh Penguins

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