Latest on the Penguins and Canadiens – May 18, 2011.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero addresses Jagr rumors and talks about his free agents, and updates on the Canadiens possible free agent defenseman signings.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Dave Molinari reports Penguins GM Ray Shero has had a few conversations with the agents for his pending free agents, and while negotiations probably won’t begin in earnest until after the Penguins June 6-8 pro scout meetings, he wouldn’t rule out a possible signing or two before then.

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Rob Rossi reports it’s possible salary cap circumstances could prevent restricted free agent Tyler Kennedy from returning with the Penguins, though Shero said he’d like to re-sign him. Shero noted impending RFAs often are traded rather than be extended a qualifying offer that would start the process toward arbitration if a contract isn’t reached. He said he’s told Kennedy he wants to re-sign him but said that he also wanted to re-sign Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi (two former Penguins who were lost to the UFA market) too.

Rossi and Molinari also reported Shero addressed reports linking the Penguins with Jaromir Jagr, saying they haven’t discussed internally the possibility of signing him, adding he “didn’t know where this came from”. The Penguins have extended an invitation for Jagr to attend an alumni golf tournament this summer but that has been the extent of their contact with him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rumors of a possible return of Jagr to the Penguins next season has been stirred up by Jagr himself, who’s been playfully suggesting he could return to the NHL next season and naming the Penguins as a potential destination if he’s unable to land a new contract with a KHL team. Some folks have taken his comments, combined it with the alumni invitation, and believe it could lead to his triumphant return as a Penguins player next season. While I won’t fully dismiss that possibility, I also consider it very remote. As for Kennedy, Shero’s comments doesn’t exactly give me a warm, fuzzy feeling that he’ll be re-signed. Not that it couldn’t happen, but Shero seems to be saying that if Kennedy isn’t willing to re-sign for an affordable deal, he’ll be shopped.

THE GLOBE & MAIL: Sean Gordon reports the Montreal Canadiens signing Russian defenseman Alexei Emelin to a one-year contract is being seen by some as an indication of GM Pierre Gauthier’s intentions regarding pending UFA Andrei Markov, which could also end their interest in re-signing UFA James Wisniewski, and carries ominous signs for Brent Sopel and Roman Hamrlik.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports Markov and RFA Josh Gorges are next up for negotiations. Markov and Gauthier have expressed mutual interest in getting a deal done, but his recent injury history could be reflected in the length of the deal. Hickey also feels re-signing Gorges to a multi-year deal with a healthy raise above the $1.1 million he made this season shouldn’t be a problem. He feels Wisniewski and Sopel won’t be back but it’s possible Hal Gill and/or Roman Hamrlik could be for the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Markov and Gorges will be back, and I believe Gill will be too. Wisniewski could be “Plan B” in what appears to be an increasingly unlikely event Markov isn’t resigned, but I think Hamrlik and Sopel are goners.


  1. ….. It saddens me to think that the Canadiens may let Wiz walk. I really like that player and he was a plus player during his time in a Canadiens uniform. I really hope they resign him. I think he is 27-28 yrs old so why not offer a 6-7 yr deal at 4 mill. Make it front loaded so he gets his money now and repays thr team with a quality cap hit. There’s no doubt he was a solid team guy and it would be a shame to see him leave for nothing and get 40-50 Pts next year somewhere else.

  2. the wiz may be plan b for montreal but he is probably plan a for at least a couple of teams, so the habs will have to play this one carefully. he might be in for a big payday, as the interest could start somewhat of a bidding war for his services. But if i was gauthier I would try to sign at least one of markov or wiznewski before july 1st, because if both hit the market, the habs just might lose out on both!!!!!

  3. Trade Markov’s rights before draft day and sign the Wiz… ;o)
    Not as talented, but cheaper, healthier, younger.
    Although I still say the best would be to get rid of Spacek and sign both Markov and Wiz…

  4. I agree with you Marty trade spacek, us the money he was getting top bring back Wiz and Markov. Cheaper contracts to Gill or Hammer would also net the Habs some more cap space to make this go.

    Smielman, 6-7 front loaded at 4 per for Wiz does make some sense. The problem is that Gauthier and Gainey do not like contracts longer that 5 years, Pleks being the notable exception. It is basically Mtl policy not to do those kind of deals.

    Because Sopel was no Gill in his playoff time in Mtl, he will not be back, and either Wiz or Markov if they are not going to be resign should have their rights traded before the draft, IMO.

  5. I’m on board with the plan here: trading Spacek for pretty much anything. Not that I think he’s a bad d-man, but he’s just using up too much cap space that would be better spent elsewhere, preferably on Wiz.

    Think Gauthier’s on board?? Fingers crossed…

  6. i think Wiz, i mean B-Job, is long gone for a gravy deal that some offensive D-starved team makes. I know he did pretty well in the habs jersey, but he was kind of a let down in the playoffs. I’m not too sorry to see him go.

  7. Agreeing with Marty like always Spacek is the item that the habs need to look at moving. Gauthier is not dumb, he takes risks but he will make the right decision and im sure the thought of getting rid of Spacek’s contract many times. Sopel, Mara and Hamrlik i think are gone. But apparently Gauthier has expressed interest in trying to lock up both Markov and Wisniewski, along with Gorges who apparently went to Gauthier personally and told him to make a pitch to keep Gill in MTL. We also need to watch out because we want both Subban and Price to long-term deals next year around 7 years and 4.5-6 million each. So excited to see what happens.

  8. In an ideal world, I would love to see the habs keep the Wiz. Unfortunately the only way to do that would be to somehow unload Spacek’s contract but that’s just not going to happen. Forget it folks.

    His age/contract makes it so that his cap hit would count even if he was bought out or sent to Hamilton. And who in their right mind would take him on at 3.83M??

    Thus the only remote possibility would be to package him with a useful and cheap youngster like Weber or DD for a draft pick… but even that’s a stretch and I wouldn’t like a deal like that at all.

    In the end, I would say keep him as 7th D and trade him at the deadline if possible. His salary will be spent on PK, Price and Eller next year anyway… So being right up to the cap this season isn’t a great idea, with only Moen’s contract expiring next year. Plus with PK, Marky and Weber what we really need IMO is an elite shutdown Dman with an edge to his game.

  9. elite shutdown dman you say? i agree with you there but I think you and I will both be quite pleased with Yemelin. He has been noted as defensive minded dman with a REAL NASTY streak to him. at 6’2″ 230 lbs should be a great fit with our d core. id love to see Wiz and Marky back imagine them both on the pp together? be nice if we could get spacek to retire and give him a front office job to free up cap space, never happen but one can wish.

  10. Tuxedoshirt, I agree Wiz a bit of a let down in the playoffs but it should be noted he was banged up with a shoulder injury and played through it effectively (compared to others).

  11. habsfan81on, I’m sure we’ll be pleased with Yemelin (Y right?), but he’ll need some time to adjust. And unfortunately, there’s no guaranty he will. I do love what he theoretically brings to the table: size, shutdown ability, toughness and a mean streak. But I would like to see our D composed of at least 2 players that fit that description.

    I do believe that it’s elite defense that wins championships. And now days, you need an excellent transition game to generate any kind of offense. But you also need to keep opposing forwards polite. PK and Yemelin can hit, but Markov, Georges, Weber and Spacek can’t. Wiz is mean but no punisher…

    If they can fit the Wiz under the cap, I guess they could always trade him later… and get a decent return. And it would be a great insurance policy for Markov.

    But I still think that if there’s an elite shutdown guy out there, they should go that route. With price in nets and a D made up of Marky + PK, Georges + a Bieksa type player (dreaming i know), Yemelin + Weber / Spacek, we’d have great balance which IMHO would result in us having one of, if not the best backend in the league.