Thanks to Rob Rossi for a little old fashioned reporting:
GM Ray Shero is expected to meet with Gonchar’s agent next week in Vancouver, though I’ve not heard that any major progress has been made toward a new deal....the sides have not agreed on the length of a possible extension, and until that happens, the finances of a possible deal really aren’t worth discussing.
And for Kris Letang:
..no real movement on discussions with Letang, who unlike Gonchar can become only a restricted free agent on July 1. The vibe I get is that Letang’s camp believes the Penguins have prioritized Gonchar... I cannot say that Letang’s value to the club moving forward is not equal to that of Gonchar’s, especially given Letang’s upside. My feeling is that the coaching staff considers him the club’s best overall defenseman on most nights. I’d put the chance of an extension before the March 3 trade deadline at no better than 10 percent.
Not much news, but that's not disconcerning for Penguin fans. Reading between the lines here's the important bullet points:
- Gonchar's agent and Shero are talking, and talking fairly regularly. That's a good thing; better to having ongoing, open-ended talks than a stalemate and a closed off demands. There's a lot of time left until July 1 and Shero will have a good idea of what he's dealing with when it comes to his decision.
- One big hold-up could be the length of the deal: Gonch obviously wants the longest deal possible to assure himself the most possible guaranteed money, but how much can Shero afford to to give to an injury prone 36 year old defenseman that's guaranteed to be on the salary cap for the duration of the contract? That's the question.
- Once the Gonchar domino is in place, things wil turn to Letang. Letang will obviously get his qualifying offer and be more stable for the Pens to deal with in July/August, though his contract negotiation could be a whole different story.
So as the season drags a long, it looks like Shero is weighing his options and considering just how he's going to handle the decisions. As always, Shero's taking a very measured approach, communicating and learning as much as possible about the situation. Don't hold your breath, this might take a while.