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Defenseman Scuderi leaves Penguins for L.A. Kings

| Thursday, July 2, 2009

With defenseman Rob Scuderi off to Los Angeles, the Penguins remain engaged in discussions with representatives for wingers Ruslan Fedotenko and Petr Sykora, the two most notable of five remaining free agents.

Scuderi, 30, has agreed to a four-year deal worth an average annual salary of $3.4 million, his agent confirmed.

The Penguins are thought to have offered a five year deal at a $2 million annual average salary, though the club would not confirm those details.

"I always had hoped maybe something could be worked out," Scuderi said. "It was strictly a numbers thing, not a lack of need or want on either side.

"Of the offers I was considering, certainly, hockey-wise, (the Kings were) up there based off who they have and the talent they have. They are a team that can turn it around in a hurry."

Penguins general manager Ray Shero has yet to comment, but is expected to later today.

Scuderi informed the Tribune-Review of his decision with a text message at 3:24 p.m.

His agent, Stephen Bartlett, described negotiations with the Penguins as "nothing but mutual respect."

"Communication and intent between ourselves and the Pens was great," he said via email. "In the end both parties understood the situation."

The situation is the Penguins are committed to slightly more than $52 million against the 2009-10 NHL salary cap, which is set at $56.8 million. They have just over $11 million in expiring contracts tied into five players.

However, with plans to extend the contracts of defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Kris Letang, neither of whom figures to sign for less than $3 million annually, the Penguins lacked cap space to pay market value for Scuderi.

That situation may cost them Fedotenko, 30, who has drawn the interest of several clubs, possibly also Los Angeles, which has a wealth of available cap space.

Fedotenko is seeking a term of three years, and the Penguins are believed to have offered only two and at not much of a raise on his $2.25 million salary from last season.

Sykora, 32, appeared in only seven playoff games after scoring 25 regular-season goals. However, he remains a popular player in the dressing room and an option to fill scoring-line slot if Fedotenko does not re-sign.

Sykora, who earned $2.5 million last season, would want a no-movement clause on a one-year deal to prevent the Penguins from trading him without consent or sticking him in the AHL to create cap space, as they did with winger Miroslav Satan late last season.

The Penguins have signed only one free agent since the period opened at noon on Wednesday, adding winger Michael Rupp for two years at an $825,000 average annual salary.

They've also lost backup goalie Mathieu Garon (Columbus) and defenseman Hal Gill (Montreal).

Gill teamed with Scuderi to form their top shutdown pairing last season and they were on the ice for the final seconds in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, which the Penguins won at Detroit, 2-1.

"Maybe people that don't play hockey don't know how good those guys were for us," Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "There were our top guys on the penalty kill and when we needed a stop. They did a tremendous job all year."

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