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Penguins News: Team Doesn’t Qualify P.O Joseph; Makes Minor Trade

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Pittsburgh Penguins, P.O Joseph

The Sunday deadline came and went, and P.O. Joseph’s time with the Pittsburgh Penguins may have come and gone, as well. The Penguins and president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas did not qualify the restricted free agent, making him an unrestricted free agent as of Monday.

As a general rule, the Penguins do not announce inaction, but word of the lack of a qualifying offer was delayed by more than an hour until Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman confirmed it.

The Penguins could sign Joseph, but they do not have exclusive rights. Joseph was an RFA with arbitration rights, which meant the Penguins did not control Joseph’s salary for next season.

Dubas distanced himself from Joseph on Friday at the NHL Draft in Las Vegas, admitting the Penguins were evaluating the market to see if other opportunities existed.

“I think the defense market of those types of free agents has been quite interesting. A lot of the players are not getting qualified,” said Dubas. “There’s an arbitration element that is important to us. And cap space. So you’re trying to measure the players that aren’t going to be qualified.”

Joseph, who turns 25 Monday, registered eight points in the final 18 games of the season as coaches placed him on the top pairing with Kris Letang. Overall, he had just 11 points (2-9-11) in 52 games last season.

AFP Analytics projected his next contract value to be $1.9 million per season for two seasons. Per the NHL CBA, the Penguins needed to offer Joseph 105% of his $825,000 salary to maintain his rights. Per Dubas on Friday, Penguins director of hockey operations and legal affairs Vukie Mpofu had been speaking with Joseph’s camp about a new contract.

It appears the Penguins did not qualify forward Emil Bemstrom, either. However, no official word was made.

There were plenty of other notable players who did not receive qualifying offers, including Alex Nylander, who the Columbus Blue Jackets did not tender. Four of the seven 2018 Team Canada players facing charges of sexual assault did not receive qualifying offers, including Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart and New Jersey Devils forward Michael McLeod.

There is no word yet on whether the Penguins will engage in further contract talks. NHL free agency officially begins at noon on Monday.

Penguins Trade

The Penguins made a minor swap Sunday when they traded 2020 fourth-round pick Lukas Svejkovsky to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Bennett MacArthur.

Despite ample offensive ability, Svejkovsky never gained traction in the Penguins organization. The 22-year-old winger split this season between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL and the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL. He is generously listed at 5-foot-11, 182 pounds, and had just four points (2-2-4) in 19 AHL games.

MacArthur has also spent most of his two professional seasons in the ECHL. He is pointless in six career AHL games. He turned pro after three seasons with Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the QMJHL. The 5-foot-11, 194-pound forward is listed as a LW.