The latest on the Penguins, plus updates on Brad Richards and R.J. Umberger.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Ron Cook reports Penguins general manager Ray Shero has many questions to answer in the off-season, among them being which free agents to retain. Cook believes forward Craig Adams and Mike Rupp should be amongst those retained given their toughness and skill, plus noting Adams would be affordable, but he doubt Arron Asham will be back as he did little during the regular season.Cook casts doubt on Pascal Dupuis and Max Talbot returning, suggesting head coach Dan Bylsma doesn’t appear to like Talbot as a player. Alex Kovalev won’t be back. Cook also noted the Penguins carry seven veteran defenseman under contract for next season, wondering if Shero might trade one or two for a scoring winger for Malkin or Crosby, as he lacks the cap space to sign on in the off-season.
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Josh Yohe reports Talbot and Dupuis are hoping to return but realize Shero only has so much cap space to work with. Yohe believes Adams and Rupp are more likely to return given their effectiveness on the fourth line.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams and Rupp probably will return as they’ll be affordable fits under the Penguins tight cap for next season, but it could come down to deciding between Dupuis or Talbot, which one fits best into the roster for next season, as well as their salary requests.
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline reported Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger’s four-year contract expires at the end of next season, and the club can start negotiating an extension with him on July 1st. Portzline said he’ll meet with his agent to reflect on the last two years, talk about upcoming years and see what’s possible. It’s believed Blue Jackets management will try to re-sign him but Umberger suggested that could depend on what moves the club makes in the off-season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also think it’ll depend on how well the club performs next season. Umberger could certainly attract considerable attention in next summer’s UFA market, and it sounds like he wants to be on a team that’s going to regularly contend for the playoffs.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika recently reported Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk has several important decisions to make, including attempting to re-sign pending UFA center Brad Richards, but has to wait until the club’s ownership situation is resolved. Currently businessman Tom Gaglardi is in a 30-day exclusivity period to negotiate the purchase of the team and half-ownership of their arena but Nieuwendyk can’t move forward until sale of the team is complete. If the sale of the team is completed by June, Nieuwendyk could begin serious negotiations with Richards, although Heika suggested the center could opt for free agency but keep the Stars in the loop.