Free-agent season has opened, so I wanted to pass along this quick update of who I’ve assessed are on the Penguins’ radar, based off numerous talks with folks around North America’s hockey community:
(Penguins have about $11 million in free space, according to their projections.)
— DEFENSMEN: Dan Hamhuis, Paul Martin, Kurtis Foster and Zbynek Michalek
— FORWARDS: Ray Whitney
— I’m putting Hamhuis on the list because he never played for the Penguins. I spoke with his agent before noon, and he said Hamhuis was headed to the market but would keep the Penguins in mind. Doesn’t sound promising, and there are a lot of signs that Hamhuis will be a big winner early in the free-agent season. Pens are willing to go four and five years on a contract.
— As for the Penguins’ UFAs:
*All have hit the market, so far as I know. RW Bill Guerin would like to return, but he would have to accept pay cut from a $2 million cap hit last season.
*D Sergei Gonchar is likely to receive several big offers, and possibly a very nice one from the Los Angeles Kings. Pens won’t offer more than two years.
*Ds Mark Eaton and Jordan Leopold are not out with the Penguins, but they are looking into options on the market.
— A couple of likable names on the mind of Penguins fans, but names that likely won’t be considered by management: Paul Kariya and Colby Armstrong.