*All the comparisons used below were from ownthepuck.blogspot.com and I used their hero charts. I would check out this tool when you want to compare players.
Resigning players is always a top priority, especially after you win back to back cups.
But in this article, I will look at other options out in free agency that aren’t currently Penguins.
But I will put a quick mention in here for our players hitting the open market.
Jim Rutherford told our unrestricted free agents to go test the market and see what they can get and come back to check in with him. Most of these players will have some high demand coming off back to back cups and provide huge experience to teams.
Someone like Nick Bonino is the biggest free agent for the team to bring back.He will be offered a lot of money in free agency by other teams.
Hopefully, something can be worked out and he will be back. Another player that will probably generate a lot of interest is Chris Kunitz.
He provides great leadership and experience to a young team. It’s very possible that a team overpaying him to entice him out of Pittsburgh. But I do feel confident he will be back after he told reports during lockeroom clean out day that “it’s not just about the money”. So I expect him back on a cheap deal for maybe a handful of years.
Free Agent Targets
Now these can be summarized as guesses but these UFA’s would be great assets for the Pens. They are not listed in any order of importance but again are listed because they could bring something to Pittsburgh next season.
Martin Hanzal, Center
Martin Hanzal is an interesting player.
He has some great size to him at 6’6″, 226 lbs. He produces points well.
When compared to Bonino they are similar players. He produces more points then Bonino did during the regular season but only produced 1 point in 5 playoff games this season.
I was interested in him during the trade deadline but he is a good plan B if Bonino doesn’t resign. The only issue I can see with him is the interest. A lot of teams will come calling and could price him out of Pittsburgh.
Brian Boyle, Center
Brian Boyle is an intriguing choice.
He brings size and physicality with his game, something Rutherford did say he wanted more of going into next season.
But when comparing him to Bonino, he isn’t putting up nearly as good of numbers.
Bonino beats him in almost every category.
I know stats aren’t everything as he also helps in a leadership role and performs well in the playoffs. And I also know Bonino isn’t the end-all-be-all but I’m using him as a comparison to these centers because these could be his replacements if we would lose him.
Boyle would be a great 4th line opt-in but a decent 3rd line option bringing some more grit to the pens.
Could you imagine a line of Scott Wilson, Ryan Reaves, and Brian Boyle? Physical and demanding on the forecheck. What a nightmare that would be for opposing teams.
Joe Thorton, Center
The big name signing.
I know, I know he’s old and washed up and wants to much.
But hold on a second. He is old and on the decline or at least we believe so. He was playing through injuries for a while this past season and thus caused his numbers to drop a lot.
He is rumored to want 3 years at $5 million per season. That’s crazy money in my mind.
If he wants a chance at winning the cup then he will take a discount.
If the Pens could convince him to come here for a 2 year deal at a cheaper discount deal then I think he considers it.
He brings size, experience, leadership, and a physical game. When compared to Bonino last year, he destroys him in every category except even strength goals. So he might not score individual goals but he sets up a ton of plays.
Sam Gagner, Winger
Sam Gagner would be a great add and wouldn’t be as expensive as other free agents.
You would steal him from a division rival and add a good depth player who can play great on the 3rd line but could step into the 2nd line wing if or when injuries occur.
He put up solid numbers and could be a good replacement if Kunitz was lost to another team.
Kyle Quincey, Defensman
Kyle Quincey would provide great defense to this team.
If players like Ron Hainsey, Trevor Daley, and Mark Streit go, then the Penguins have to replace them.
Quincey checks out as a 2nd pair defenseman and a bottom pair on a bad season. He shouldn’t cost too much which is good news for the Pens.
With Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz needing new deals, you may have limited room. Daley likely will leave for another team but I think Quincey could be a good option here.
Cody Franson, Defensman
Cody Franson checks out as a 2nd pairing defenseman.
He hasn’t played much ice time so far in his career but could add something to the Penguins.
Other than the fact that he is a good defenseman, he creates shots and can block shots as well.
I believe with a fresh start with a new team he could find his game more. He could come at a cheaper deal to prove himself to an organization who could get him on a bargain. That could be something the Pens are looking for.
Your guess is as good as mine. Goalie isn’t a huge priority in my mind. You have Tristan Jarry to backup Matt Murray.
I feel confident enough in Jarry to not sign a free agent and go into the year with that tandem. It saves some money and allows jarry to grow his game.
But we shall see what happens comes July 1st.
When it comes to these names they are just guesses.
But the closer we look to last year’s Pens, the better in my mind. The hope is that the team can resign a lot of it’s own players instead of having to sign outsiders. It’ll be interesting to see what Rutherfords plan is on Saturday July 1st. Enjoy the frenzy everyone.