Qualifying offers were due today in the NHL, ahead of free agency tomorrow. The Penguins elected to give QO’s to five players, who they will retain as restricted free agents.
The Penguins have extended qualifying offers to the following restricted free agents:— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 30, 2023
• Jonathan Gruden
• Filip Hallander
• Drew O’Connor
• Ty Smith
• Filip Lindberg pic.twitter.com/sp8ED6ywyH
The most notable are for Drew O’Connor and Ty Smith, two young players who could be in the plans next season for the NHL roster. Jonathan Gruden appeared in a few games last season and improved his production at the AHL level. Both the Filip’s (Hallander and Lindberg) will not be a part of the Pens’ organization next season because both elected to sign for European teams instead.
The biggest omission is Ryan Poehling. Poehling, 24, appeared in 53 games for the Pens last season scoring 14 points (7G+7A). If qualified, Poehling would have had the rights to file for salary arbitration, and it’s possible his award would have been higher than the Penguins were interested in paying, thus the decision to cut ties with him an allow him to become an unrestricted free agent tomorrow when the market opens.
It could be possible Poehling could still return for the Penguins, that happened one year with Pittsburgh after not qualifying Evan Rodrigues, as well as Danton Heinen just last season. However, with Kyle Dubas looking to re-shape and improve the bottom-six forward group, this could also be a sign the Pens will look to freshen their group up by looking to sign other free agents starting tomorrow.
For their parts, Smith and O’Connor will likely sign with Pittsburgh at some point this off-season and have some sort of role with the team next season.