NHL salary cap to increase slightly
• The NHL salary cap will increase for the 2009-10 season, though not enough to impact clubs in a significant way. The league and its Players' Association announced Friday that the cap will jump to $56.8 million -- a $100,000 increase from last season. The salary floor will stand at $40.8 million. The Penguins will commit $40.7 million to the following players: Cs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin ($8.7 million each); D Sergei Gonchar and G Marc-Andre Fleury ($5 million each); C Jordan Staal ($4 million); LW Chris Kunitz ($3.72 million); D Brooks Orpik ($3.75 million); and D Alex Goligoski ($1.83 million).
• General manager Ray Shero said cap uncertainty for the 2010-11 season because of the weak global economy "could be" a problem regarding contract extensions for D Gonchar and Kris Letang. Gonchar, 35, can become an unrestricted free agent and Letang, 22, a restricted free agent next summer, but the Penguins would like to reach extension agreements with each during the upcoming season. Negotiations cannot begin with either player's representatives until July 1, per the collective bargaining agreement. Gonchar likely will need to accept a lower annual salary because Letang, at $835,000, is expected to command a significant raise.
• Shero also said his focus this weekend was "on the draft," but did not express pessimism about signing unrestricted free agents he has targeted to bring back next season. Those players include RW Bill Guerin, LW Ruslan Fedotenko, C Mike Zigomanis and, yes, D Rob Scuderi -- though the Penguins expect Scuderi to test the open market and receive offers beyond what they can afford, given their cap situation. "We've identified some guys we'd like to have back and we've expressed that," Shero said, "but it's a matter of keeping these guys with a $56.8 million salary cap, and keeping our core guys together."