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Who not to expect (Gagne) and what to watch for (prospects).

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Greetings on a dreary Friday, dear readers. Figured I’d file a quick update with so little actually going on regarding the Penguins and free agency.

• GAGNE > PENS

Actually, that should read Gagne > Pens’ cap space.

Over the past few days, I have received several e-mails asking about the possibility of the Penguins trading for and/or claiming Flyers LW SIMON GAGNE and adding a once-elite but oft-injured winger to their galaxy of star centers. Being that Gagne remains property of the Flyers, who may or may not have asked him to waive a no-trade clause, the Penguins cannot comment on his status because of tampering rules. Many of my fellow hockey scribe colleagues have chimed in on this, such as Sports Illustrated’s Alan Muir.

Gagne, 30, remains property of the Flyers, which would prevent them from discussing any interest in him because of tampering rules. Would a fairly young player with 259 regular-season goals look nice wearing a Skating Penguin crest? Yep, especially a player with Gagne’s high-end skill. However, Gagne has played in fewer than 60 games in three seasons dating to 2002, which seemingly would suggest his $5.25 million cap hit a considerable risk to the Penguins, whose cap space is limited. Also, he is in the final year of a contract, and the Penguins probably couldn’t afford to keep him given they are roughly between $1.5 and $2 million under the cap — so why take a risk on more roster shakeup for one season?

Also, the Flyers have less than $1 million in cap space, with some reports suggesting less than $300,000. The Penguins would need to move a player or players to clear cap space for Gagne, and the Flyers cannot take on salary; they would be moving him gain cap space. For those asking if the Penguins would be interested in Gagne? I have not heard they would be, though I suspect they would be intrigued by any winger of his potential quality who is available. Still, a trade with the Flyers, given both teams’ cap restrictions, doesn’t add up at this moment.

Now, teams are not obligated to be under the $59.4 million salary cap at this moment, but they will need to be at or under it by the time next season begins.

Penguins GM RAY SHERO said last week he has not ruled out trades, but another one this offseason with the Flyers, at least one to acquire Gagne, seems like a stretch.

Waivers, you might ask? An interesting option if the Flyers choose that option, but there isn’t a lot of reason to think they will.

PROSPECT CAMP

The kids are in town next week for prospect camp. If you’re a die-hard fan or just interested in checking out, say, ERIC TANGRADI, details of the cap can be found here.

Tangradi, the top offensive prospect in the organization, has all the tools to be a stud. If he starts the season with the Penguins, which is a possibility, I maintain he would fare better opening on a third line than working on a scoring line and the pressures that come with it.

The prospect I really want to see next week is D SIMON DESPRES, the 30th overall pick in 2009. I’ve heard nothing but glowing assessments of his past year of work from team scouts, who seem higher on him now than when he was selected.

Practices are 3 p.m. daily at Southpointe from Tuesday-Saturday, and they are open to fans. I expect to see many of the dear readers there.

Also, dear readers, check out this link.

For those of you that go forward with auditions, well, I’d love to hear how that process goes via e-mail.

— ROSSI

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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.

 
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