Late-evening Pens FA update.

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Just heard back from GM RAY SHERO, and here are some points as or 8:35 p.m. on Tuesday:

= His most recent conversation with the agent for D SERGEI GONCHAR brought the Penguins no closer to a new contract for their top defenseman. “It’s pretty much where it’s been,” Shero said of talks with agent JP BARRY, who is seeking a three-year deal for Gonchar, 36. The Penguins are reluctant to go beyond two years.

As I noted in an earlier post I’ve not heard back from Barry. In the past when communication with an agent has stopped that has sometimes pointed to deals being near. That was the case last week with LW MATT COOKEand various other Penguins players in the past. That said, Barry has many clients and it is most likely that he is just busy and not apt to continuously update a situation that has not progressed for weeks. Also, Shero is not a liar, and the tone of his voice during our Tuesday-night talk certainly left me believing no progress has been made with Gonchar. Plus, he said nothing had changed.

= Shero had another “good” converation with D DAN HAMHUIS, and he expected to speak with agent WADE ARNOTT for a second time late Tuesday. Hamhuis is in British Columbia, Canada, so he is three hours behind Pittsburgh. I’ll just go blow-by-blow of my talks with Shero about Hamhuis:

Q: Are you negotiating with Hamhuis?

A: No. I’d call it ongoing discussions. I talked with Wade (around 6:30 p.m.), it was a conference call with him and Dan.

Q: Does the lack of contract negotiations mean you can’t get a deal done before Thursday’s free-agent deadline?

A: This is how the process works when you trade for a guy’s rights, I guess. You have a couple of days, in our case three, to talk to him. It takes some time. He’s got to see if what we’re presenting works for him and his family. Right now it’s just about educating the player and his family about the situation in Pittsburgh, the organization, the city. He has a lot of questions.

Q: Have you enlisted anybody else to talk with him, including players?

A: I’ve been the only one talking to him, really. He knows Mark Eaton, and they played together in Nashville. Maybe he’ll reach out to him. With this, though, it’s been me and (Hamhuis). I’ve known him for a long time, so there is a history there.

So, there you have it. For what it’s worth, for the first time in a couple of days I’ve not heard back from Arnott. He had informed me during our first conversation Saturday that if he had nothing he could share he wouldn’t be in touch. I’m not reading anything into him not getting back to me, but it’s interesting to me that he and Shero are slated to speak again late Tuesday night. Also, again, Shero has termed his talks with Hamhuis as “good.”

= Finally, regarding the Penguins’ other potential UFAs (8 total), Shero had this to say about possibly trading their rights to other teams before tomorrow afternoon: “There’s a possiblity. That would be the window.”

Before anybody gets all too excited about that, I take that answer to mean Shero has not ruled anything out — not that he has anything on the table.

I’ll have an analysis of the Gonchar/Hamhuis situation in Wednesday’s print edition, and you’ll be able to find it on the web site around midnight. As always, check back often as there might be breaking news at any point.

–ROSSI

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