The NHL free agent tampering period begins in nine days. At 12:01 a.m. June 23, conversations between teams and players or more specifically player agents can begin. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is unlikely to have much cash if any to fill some roster spots as he told media earlier this week he expects winger Phil Kessel to return next season. The consensus was Kessel, and his $6.8 million salary would be shipped out but Rutherford did not find the trade market to be pleasing and Kessel did not find Minnesota to be an acceptable destination.
So, the Penguins will have about $3.2 million this offseason to address needs, re-sign Marcus Pettersson, Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger. The Penguins also lack one top-six left wing, too. Even if the Penguins find a taker for Olli Maatta and recoup that $4 million, the Penguins are still swimming in the shallow end of the free agent pool because of looming obligations next summer.