It’s clear that the weakness is D.
First off, let's get the goalies out of the way.
B. Johnson – 600K – Drop
B.Thiesson – 525K+ - Keep
Fleury isn’t going anywhere (not that he needs to) and the best case is that they get a capable backup that pushes him to perform while giving him plenty of rest. Last season Fleury sucked in October and Johnson went on a role and started a lot in November, Fleury rebounded from sitting on the bench and was stellar to end the season. Him losing time when he sucks + being pushed by back-up + getting more rest = near elite status MAF.
Thiessen is a RFA and would need a raise on his 525K (plus bonuses), so long as it’s kept close to 1M, I could see him riding the pine at the end of the Pens bench. He’s played well in the AHL and deserves a shot at some more NHL starts. He played well when Johnson was “sick” for a few weeks (I think he was evaluating whether or not he wanted to keep playing this season and beyond, retirement is pending) except for getting shelled and giving up 8 in his last start. I think he could serve well especially if Bylsma lets him get some starts in October and November and builds up his confidence.
Now to the players.
A. Asham – 775K - Drop
S. MacIntyre – 600K - Drop
B. Johnson – 600K - Drop
S. Sullivan – 1.5M - Keep
R. Park – 550K - Keep
Of their UFAs that are coming up, there isn’t much cap room opening up with only 3 players likely to come off the books at a hit of about 2M.
I would have to agree with Stu Neft that if Sullivan will stay on for another year at the same 1.5M, he will stay. With his ability to stay healthy, chemistry with the Big 3 and his late season scoring pace, it looks like he might be worth keeping around.
Park has played great this season considering he was an NHL castoff for the last few years. If he doesn’t expect much of a raise, say 200K or less, he is another player I can see staying on.
E. Tangradi – 845K - Keep
M. Niskanen – 1.5M – Trade
B. Strait – 862K – Keep
R. Bortuzzo – 550K – Keep
As much as he has grown on me and has played really well at times this year, Matt Niskanen will be on a different NHL next season. He will want at least another 1-1.5M and there are plenty of teams that I am sure could use a part-time PPQB with some potential. I hope Shero can move him for a pick or depth forward.
I think that Tangradi will stay although at what cost? Again, if he doesn’t expect big dollars but wants a one-way contract, he could find some time on the 3rd line with PP2 time in front of the net. He hasn’t been as great as he projected to be but he is a power forward and they do take time so keeping him around might be a good idea.
A decision will have to be made in regards to the direction of the D. IF they can move Martin/Michalek then things open right up and lots can be done but if not, I am sure they will lose one of Bortuzzo or Strait. If Bortuzzo didn’t suffer from a concussion this year, he probably would’ve seen some more time in the NHL but it was a year lost.
Strait played well when called upon but doesn’t add anything dynamic to the D whereas Bortuzzo has the size. If Shero wants to play it safe, Strait will be the keeper but if he wants to keep the size in his depth chart Bortuzzo will get the contract. If they manage to keep them both on two-way deals, there is no reason they can’t keep them both.
If Shero wants to shake things up, Martin/Michalek will get dealt (for what remains to be seen) but if there aren’t any takers or there isn’t getting back for them and they stay put, it will be another off-season of small tweaks and focusing on developing the players they already have. Depres will be in the top 6 and will likely take Niskanen’s spot.
Shero will then have to tweak the bottom 6 but if Tangradi gets a contract (Shero HAS TO push for a two-way) and Sullivan is retained, there won’t be much to tweak. Tangradi in for Asham and Park stays put because he is cheap and did his job well.
Unless the D is blown up and by D I mean Martin and Michalek, don’t expect much to happen this off-season…..unless Staal truly is unhappy then WHO KNOWS! Staal for Suter?