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Latest UFA update, and Cup Final thoughts.



Thanks to an observant reader, I was tipped off to some misinformation from my previous post. Regarding Penguins prospects who are restricted free agents, please scratch from my previous listing Cs MARK LETESTU and DUSTIN JEFFREY. Letestu is in the final season of a two-year deal, and Jeffrey is in the last year of his entry-level contract, according to Penguins ASS’T GM JASON BOTTERILL.


Unfortunately, as of Thursday afternoon there isn’t news to report on the Penguins’ potential unrestricted free agents. I’ve been in touch with the agents for players who seemingly are the highest priorities (according to readers) – Ds SERGEI GONCHAR and MARK EATON, LW MATT COOKE – and, well, there just isn’t a lot going on right now.

That could change fast, though. GM RAY SHERO is headed to Toronto for the NHL Draft Combine workouts, and conversations could pick up there as often that event provides an opportunity for managers and agents to talk.

I can report that Gonchar’s camp expects to meet with Shero at the Combine. As I wrote in the previous post, a Penguins UFA told me that as he understands the situation, everything starts with Gonchar. So, perhaps the Penguins’ free-agent dealings are about to heat up.

Remember, with the likes of Gonchar and impending UFAs, the Penguins hold exclusive negotiating rights until free agency begins at noon on July 1.


A lot has been made of this Final being a nightmare for Penguins fans, but I don’t buy that working theory. I don’t know any Penguins fans that are rooting for the Flyers, even though arguably the most despised former Penguin since RW JAROMIR JAGR — that would be Blackhawks RW MARIAN HOSSA — is chasing that elusive Cup win.

My pick is Flyers in six.

Maybe I’m seduced by having watching them dismantle a Montreal club that beat the East’s presumably most Cup-ready clubs. Mostly, I just have the feeling, as I have for some time, that the Flyers are to this NHL era what the Steelers were to the NFL last decade: A great team with a potential dynasty in its path. The Steelers won Super Bowls in seasons they didn’t have to best the dynastic Patriots in the playoffs. The Flyers are in the Final the season they didn’t draw the Penguins in the playoffs. It’s enough to make me wonder. Also, I think the Flyers are a tougher team – mentally, emotionally – and that will give them a chance to split at Chicago in Games 1 and 2 and ride the Orange Crush at Philadelphia to a 3-1 series lead.

I’d love to hear from any Penguins fans that are choosing a historic rival over a jilting winger. If you are going with the Flyers, share with me your reasons at Please include your full name and hometown if you want those reasons to appear in the blog.



Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.


  1. Bill Kammermeier says:

    Hawks in 5. It is all about match-ups. Flyers matched up well with the Devils and Habs and they matched up fairly even with the Bruins. If it wasn’t for injuries the Bruins might have even held on in that series. The Flyers do not match-up well at all against the Hawks. I also think in the Conference finals if it was Pens-Flyers the Pens would have beaten the Flyers, but the Pens do not match up well against the sit back and wait for a mistake teams such as the Devils and the playoffs Habs whereas the Flyers do. The Flyers will not be able to handle the Hawks firepower. The Hawks are a tougher team than you might think. The best the Flyers can do is hope that they don’t get swept.

  2. spiros says:

    i can’t take another year of gonchar on defense,his horrible in his end,plays with ONE hand on his stick on D,he got abused all year by ovechkin and our power play was 20th this year,so don’t give me the PP talk!!
    the pens will regret signing him,better go after joe corvo for the PP and volchenkov for shutdown D

  3. mike alt says:

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually pulling for our rival in this one… The Flyers are the team you love to hate, but they are also a respectable, grinding, tough in your face team. My stomach can handle Richards raising the cup much more than Ovechkin doing so! As for the Sarge, I would have to say its time to let him go. I hope he signs a long term contract someplace that can afford to pay him what he’s worth. We might suffer next season, but I honestly believe its just a matter of time before Letang and/or Goligoski can fill his shoes. If losing Gonch frees up enough cash I would say throw every available penny in trying to lure Volchenkov to Pitt!!! I can see our D pairings Orpik/Letang and Goligoski/Volchenkov and Eaton/Lovejoy… we also need to sign Guerin and Cooke… let Ponikovski and Fedotenko hit the streets and bring up some AHL guys like Letetsu, Conner and Tangradi with some upside!

  4. Mesz says:

    Hawks in 5. I have to agree with spiros here. If we are going to spend 5 mil a year for the next 3 years, players like Corvo and Volchenkov are a great solution. Gonchar is terrible in his own end and wasn’t that great on the power play this year or in the playoffs. I hate to let him go because he was an important part of our Stanly Cup win but we can’t afford the 5 Mil for him at his age.

  5. Jay says:

    Corvo, please tell me your kidding. Didn’t they call him oh no Corvo in Carolina? Volchenkov yes, if we don’t sign him Washington will. Gonchar is too old and frail at this stage of his career to pay big money to. If we can’t get Volchenkov how about Hamhuis from Nashville.
    Can’t root for the Flyers, who wants to see Hartnell get the cup not me! All the Hossa bachers need to give it up. The guy played great here for what 3 months. He was UFA people, they act like we drafted him, brought him up through our organiztion and then he jilted us.
    I was hoping the Flyers get swept, they are half way there after tonight’s loss, haha!

  6. espo33 says:

    People Gonchar was not terrible on the PP. Get that out of your head please. He was 3rd on the team in PP pts in the playoffs. He was 2nd in the regular season in pts on the PP and 1st in A’s even though he played in 62 games. Watch the games people. Letang was terrible on the PP in the regular season with his passing.

    Gonchar should only be signed for 2 years and $4M though. Anything more is too long and too much. Go for Volchenkov and Hamhuis. If they are both too much just go for Vol’s. Lovejoy is better then Eaton.

  7. Bobby O says:


    I picked the Flyers in 5 against the Devils and the Flyers in 5 against the Habs. Why? Because they match up favorably against teams like them. Just like the Habs game was something teams like Pittsburgh and Washington have problems with, the Flyers (a team that would have lost to the Caps and Pens) had the answers.

    But just because the Flyers could beat Montreal doesn’t mean they will have similar results against the Hawks. I picked the Hawks to sweep the Flyers and just like my first two Flyers predictions, things seems to be going as planned.

  8. john says:

    yea bobby O you are a genuis things are really going as planned

  9. chris says:

    who cares id much rather have the hawks so i dont have to listen to the the flyer fans but on the other hand id love to see how good the flyers are next year if they win and every team is gunning for you

  10. Frank says:

    Pulling for Marian Hossa or the Philadelphia Flyers? This is even up for debate in this city?

    I can only speak for myself, but I stopped caring about Marian Hossa back on July 1, 2008 when he signed a one-year deal worth $7.45 million with the Detroit Red Wings. Much like with Jaromir Jagr, I suggest it’s time for some in this city (including some in the media) to move on and get over it. He’s gone. He’s been gone.

    At the end of the day, I would rather watch players like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane hoist the cup over the likes of Scott Hartnell and Daniel Carcillo. Also, being a long-time season ticket holder I would rather not have to listen to obnoxious and ignorant Philadelphia fans who are coming off a Stanley Cup wining season over the course of three home games next season.

    Go Blackhawks. Close it out tomorrow night.

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