Penguins add veteran center Comrie
General manager Ray Shero is doing something right in convincing players Pittsburgh is the spot for them.
Forward Mike Comrie, who signed a one-year contract with the Penguins on Friday, had talked to Shero about attending training camp on a tryout contract.
Instead, Shero snagged Comrie — 29 and a scorer of 20 goals in five NHL seasons — for the league minimum $500,000.
"He sold us on his willingness to play anywhere in the lineup," Shero said. "This is a guy who played half a season and scored 13 goals. His best hockey was a few years ago with Ottawa when (the Senators advanced to the 2007 Stanley Cup) Final, and he hasn't been to the playoffs since."
The Penguins have played in four straight postseasons, and they'll be on the short list of favorites for a third trip to the Final in four seasons after Shero's offseason shopping spree.
It began with re-signing left wing Matt Cooke (three years/$5.4 million) before free agency, picked up on Day 1 of the open period with the signings of defensemen Zbynek Michalek (five years/$20 million) and Paul Martin (five years/$25 million) and wrapped with the recent gatherings of forward Arron Asham (one year/$700,000) and Comrie.
Not including injured center Jordan Staal, the Penguins will open camp with 12 forwards on NHL contracts — though perhaps it is time to redefine what that means for this club.
"Game-to-game," Shero said of lineup spots, adding that this camp will be "probably, most likely" the most competitive of his tenure that dates to 2006.
Oh, and prospects — from heralded power forward Eric Tangradi to potential third-line center Mark Letestu to likely sixth defenseman Ben Lovejoy — should consider themselves on alert.
Shero insisted there is "still opportunity" for prospects to win a roster spot, but...
"A young guy has to come in and earn that spot," he said.
With $1.2 million remaining under the NHL's $59.4 million salary cap, Shero did not rule out the team carrying 14 forwards into the regular season, which opens Oct. 7 against Philadelphia at Consol Energy Center.
Comrie might have a prominent role in that game. He is one of only three Penguins to score at least 30 goals in a season. He accomplished that task twice, the last time five years ago with Phoenix.
He could contend for a top-seven spot among forwards given his versatility. He can play either wing position or at center, and his lineup chances are enhanced by his ability to man the half-wall on a second power-play unit.
The Penguins have lacked that element to their No. 2 power play for several seasons.
"I've always tried to create chances and think on the ice, make plays," said Comrie, who recently married actress Hilary Duff.
"Depending on whom you're playing with and the time and score of the game you have to adapt. With the roster the Penguins have you might just have to get your stick open. If you get open there will be a lot of chances."
In a couple of weeks there will be a lot of players trying to win a select few spots, and Shero knows what to look for from Comrie's attempt to win one.
"When he's on his game, he's a guy you want to kill," Shero said. "Against us he used to fight Colby (Armstrong), and he fought (Max) Talbot and (Tyler Kennedy) — I remember all those. He gets under your skin."
Note: Single game tickets for home games will go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 10. About 2,000 tickets for each game will be available. The team has cut its season-ticket sales at 15,000 to ensure tickets are available for individual sale. They can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000; also at all Ticketmaster outlets and the Consol Energy Center box office.Additional Information:
Bang for the bucks
As of July 2, the Penguins had committed to $55.9 million in cap space tied into 18 players on one-way contracts. Breaking down one-way deals GM Ray Shero has inked since:
Arron Asham (forward): 1 year ($700,000 cap hit); 10 goals, 24 points, 72 games in 2009-10 ($640,000 cap hit)
Mike Comrie (forward): 1 year ($500,000 cap hit); 13 goals, 21 points, 43 games in 2009-10 ($1.25 million cap hit)
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