Pittsburgh Penguins Primer: Expansion Draft and Free Agency by @alfaM1keFoxtrot

Here are my thoughts on how the expansion draft and free agency will play out:

The following information has been compiled from websites like capfriendly.com, hockey-reference.com, and hockeydatabase.com.

The Protected:


  1.  Sidney Crosby: No movement clause - No explanation needed.....His world, we're all just living in it.
  2.  Evgeni Malkin: No movement clause - Again no explanation needed...He is score...and he has 3 cups.
  3.  Phil Kessel: No movement clause -  Plus he's nearly a point per game player ANY time of year.
  4.  Patric Hornqvist: The importance of this man's on ice personality and production may trail only Sullivan, #87 and #71.
  5.  Bryan Rust: Because you don't expose a 25-year-old forward who can play in the top six, is making less than 1 million, and has a habit scoring big goals.
  6.  Scott Wilson: Redundant...but "you don't expose a 25-year-old forward who can play in the top six and is making less than 1 million....at least not for this expansion draft.
  7.  I left a spot open here in case a trade is made for another forward.


   1.  Kris Letang: No movement clause - Almost no explanation needed because he is Norris Trophy caliber.
   2.  Justin Schultz: RFA who needs re-signed but is a "light" version of the unicorn right-handed defenseman that every franchise is after....(insert Kris Letang here). PLUS he's only 26, so as a defenseman, his prime has just started.

Below are a list of comparable seasons from the last three years in which points and TOI (time on ice) were priorities. Based on this information, my goal would be to sign Schultz to a 4 or 6 year contract averaging 4.25 million so he feels fairly compensated. Also, so he does not become an UFA the same offseason as Letang. The tough part here is Schultz's lack of a track record. It's a bit of a gamble but similar continued production could make it pay off in spades.

    3.  Brian Dumoulin: Another RFA who needs re-signed. However at 6'4" 207 lbs and playing 22 minutes a night during this past playoff run on a bad back, you don't let him go.

As with Schultz, below are a list of comparable seasons from the last three years in which points and TOI were priorities. Dumoulin's case is a bit simpler as there is consistency to his production over the last two years. However the larger variance in comparable contracts makes a bridge deal more useful here. Because of this I'm going to lean toward the lower end of the spectrum with a 2 year deal at 2.25 million.


Matt Murray: No explanation needed - Really. There are just too many reasons and too little time.

The Exempt
  1. Conor Sheary: Doesn't meet the requirements in terms of professional years. However Sheary is a RFA with a bunch of variables that play into a new contract. As I stated in a previous article. Sheary's comparables to this year are expensive high-end players, BUT they all had track records of production before their current deals were signed.
Therefore, I'd use a bridge deal with Sheary just as I did with Dumoulin. The Penguins can hedge their bets. Two years at 3.25 is a reasonable step contract while the team assesses whether Sheary can consistently replicate the production from this season.

     2.  Jake Guentzel: Doesn't meet the requirements in terms of professional years.
     3.  Carter Rowney: Doesn't meet the requirements in terms of professional years - even at age 28.
     4.  Josh Archibald: RFA - needs re-signed - borderline to stay in the NHL - two way deal.
     5.  Oskar Sundqvist: RFA - needs re-signed - borderline to stay in the NHL - two way deal.
     6.  Derrick Pouliot: RFA - needs re-signed - Not yet willing to give up on a 23-year-old kid with focus issues. $800,000 on a two-way is reasonable. The talent is there.
     7.  Tristan Jarry: Doesn't meet the requirements in terms of professional years.

Other UFAs worth resigning

    1.  Chris Kunitz or Matt Cullen: Tying up money in multiple forwards over the age of 38 and not named Jagr doesn't make a whole lot of sense: Matt Cullen would be my choice because of versatility and the Penguins needs at center within the bottom 6.
    2.  Chad Ruhwedel: He is actually a perfect bottom-pairing defenseman and he is right-handed. He's probably comparable Chris to Wideman in Ottawa.

Unprotected or Trade Bait

  1.  Carl Hagelin: He was injured and is making too much for Vegas to take him. If he leaves in a trade at least the Penguinss get something in return.
  2.  Tom Kuhnhackl: Solid bottom 6 contributor but can't stay in the lineup. Not worth protecting
  3.  Ian Cole: This isn't easy, but there are other Ian Cole type players.
  4.  Olli Maatta: This is a tough decision as Maatta is young but is probably the Penguins' best movable bargaining chip. The bottom line is that the previously mentioned defenders, who are being protected, are all better.

Players to Let Go:

    1.  Nick Bonino: A to be 29-year-old UFA coming off back to back cups in a very weak center market, Bonino could probably command between 4 and 5.5 million. Not on the Penguins though.
    2.  Trevor Daley: A 33-year-old UFA with great transition ability but struggles to drive play. I'll pass.
    3.  Ron Hainsey: A 36-year-old who at times looked a lot like Rob Scuderi. No thank you.
    4.  Mark Streit: A 39-year-old that was probably under-utilized but is still 39. I wish him the best.

Biggest Area of Concern - Bottom Six Centers

Nick Bonino's probable departure:  The Penguins can't spend what the market will offer him and I wouldn't. I would wish him the best if he wants anything over 3 million from them.

Matt Cullen's probable retirement: This may be the biggest loss going into next season as finding a veteran center that will put up over 30 points a year, can play multiple positions up and down the lineup, and cost you 1 million or less is basically unheard of.

If Rowney or Sundqvist are slated to fill the 4th line center role, the Penguins may need to trade for a higher-end center as their 3rd line center to make up for what they are losing.

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About David

Intelligence is more important than conviction. Even if we don't agree, intelligence accepts facts to adjust the frame of its view. I'm willing to do that.
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