According to the TSN Insiders, a couple of ideal gets to fill the Pittsburgh Penguins offseason shopping list might not make it to market.
The 2021-22 Penguins already have a few holes in the lineup. They are likely to accumulate another or two in the process of the coming expansion draft, Cody Ceci’s free agency, and perhaps if one or more of their RFAs with arbitration rights want too much money.
The flat cap has already stretched the Penguins salary cap dollars thinner than my post-college paychecks when I snagged empty boxes at Aldi instead of spending 50 cents for bags because that allowed me to buy one more frozen burrito.
(Yes, I still eat like an unchaperoned child at a birthday party…but I can afford to buy the good plastic bags now.)
Ceci’s pending unrestricted free agency coupled with a lack of prospects means Penguins general manager Ron Hextall will necessarily have to go outside the organization to fill the opening at RHD. Ceci played strong top-four minutes for the Penguins for the second half of the season and was quite good.
They have the option to elevate John Marino to the second-pair with Mike Matheson and look for a third-pair right-side defenseman, or clear salary and look for a top-four defenseman.
Again–that’s if they don’t sign Ceci.
One prime option to fill that RHD spot was Adam Larsson, whose contract with the Edmonton Oilers is expiring. The 6-foot-3, 208-pound defenseman is a heavy stay-at-home rearguard. He would be the ideal get for the Penguins to balance Matheson, but it appears Larsson may not make it to the market.
According to the TSN Insiders, after signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a team-friendly deal on Tuesday, the Edmonton Oilers are making a push to sign Larsson and keep him off the NHL free agent market.
“I believe the Larsson negotiations are into the final stretch and will get done soon,” TSN Insider Daren Dreger said.
Welp, scratch that potential.
And there’s one more that could affect the Pittsburgh Penguins offseason discussions. A few weeks ago, a reliable source told PHN the Penguins are looking into experienced goalies with playoff experience to be a prominent backup to Tristan Jarry.
The source mentioned a goalie like Frederick Andersen, who lost his net to Jack Campbell with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fans and media (and perhaps the organization, too) gave Andersen a meaty dose of blame for Toronto’s failure. The team did not escape Round One during his tenure, and all signs pointed towards free agency.
And a possible phone call from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
However, that possibility may not come to pass, either. According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN, Toronto reached out to Andersen to gauge his interest to stick around.
“This is a bit surprising given that a lot of people around the situation felt that Andersen was probably for sure headed towards free agency…,” LeBrun said. “Claude Lemieux, Andersen’s agent, told me that he spoke with Leafs management on Monday and the question they got from the Leafs is: Is Andersen interested in potentially signing with Toronto and staying put? The answer from Lemieux to the Maple Leafs was ‘yes.’”
As part of the report, Andersen is open to sharing the net with Campbell, much like the potential Penguins situation.
Perhaps the renewed chatter surrounding a Penguins trade for Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury has changed the goalie landscape. It could also be a momentary shift in positions from Toronto. Or, the Penguins could decide to go in a different direction.
The thing about free agency chatter one month before free agency is–nothing is ever completely solid, and nothing is firm until it is signed on the dotted line.
But it looks like two potential Penguins solutions won’t hit the market.