PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 08: Jordan Staal #11 of the Pittsburgh Penguins takes down Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers as the fight to control a faceoff with less than a minute to go in the third period of an NHL hockey game at Wells Fargo Center on December 8, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Pens GM Ray Shero met with the media today on the eve of the NHL awards and with the NHL Entry Draft to be in Pittsburgh later this weekend, here were some of his key points..
On Jordan Staal:
--Teams have called to inquire about Staal's status, but Shero says he has only told them that the Penguins are still hoping to re-sign Staal, and there is no informal deadline set by either party. According to Shero, Staal has not made indication he's looking to play elsewhere in 2013, so the Penguins are operating under the assumption they can start negotiating with him on July 1st, and Shero is, at this point, hoping that they can re-sign him.
(hat-tip to @MolinariPG)
On upcoming free agents:
--As expected, the Penguins will give qualifying offers to Eric Tangradi, Matt Niskanen, Robert Bortuzzo, Brian Strait, Keven Veilleux, Alex Grant and Carl Sneep. If the players do not accept the offer, they will become restricted free agents as of July 1st.
--The Pens do not plan to qualify Alex Picard, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Mattias Modig or Boris Valabik and all of these players will become unrestricted free agents on 7/1.
--Steve Sullivan and Arron Asham, two impending unrestricted free agents "have been good players for us" and Shero intends to reach out to their agents after the draft to touch base about contract interests. In recent times, Asham has said he would be willing to re-sign with Pittsburgh, and Sullivan's agent confirmed the 38 year would "definitely" be playing somewhere in the NHL next season.
--Shero did say that he plans on trading a "defenseman or two" before the coming season, though he wouldn't say whether he asked any players to waive no-trade clauses (Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek all have some form of NTC's).
Not too much unexpected for this, Shero's pretty much publically said all along his first preference will be to sign Jordan Staal to an extension. Though the rumors will continue, I'd put it the chances that the Pens trade Staal at the draft at just a tick above 0%.
Also, while folks may flip out (or prepare to celebrate) about a potential Paul Martin trade- keep in mind that if the Pens re-sign Niskanen, Bortuzzo and Strait they've got 9 or 10 solid options for NHL defensemen. Simply out of pure numbers a trade would have to clear the logjam. Don't count out possibly moving Ben Lovejoy, a player deep in Dan Bylsma's doghouse, for a draft pick if the Pens can find a taker.