Penguins do not want Scuderi to test market, will let Thibault become UFA.

In an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it is stated that after giving qualifying offers and still having 16 players that can become free-agents, Ray Shero is only trying to sign defenseman Rob Scuderi from the list of 16, before he tests the free-agent market.

The Penguins qualified their only RFA defenseman, Ryan Whitney, with an offer yesterday. Now Ray Shero is trying to make sure he keeps his best defensive utility defenseman in Rob Scuderi, while at the same time not ruling out signing Nasreddine and Melichar back after they become free-agents depending on the price. And the same goes for goaltender Joceylyn Thibault.

The fact that Thibault might not be back, makes more perplexing that the article states that goaltender Nolan Schaefer (who was explicitly acquired during the trade deadline by Shero for a 7th round-pick in this year’s draft) will be let go. The article states that not only will Shero let Schaefer go into the free-agent market, but he does not plan to sign him from the market. This makes you wonder what was the purpose of Shero seemingly wasting a draft pick for no apparent reason, other than having Schaefer play during the WBS Penguins AHL playoffs.

That seemingly leaves the Penguins with only Marc-Andre Fleury in the system as a signed goaltender. Which means Ray Shero must sign at least three more goaltenders in order to fill the vacancies for NHL backup, plus both farm teams. Therefore look for Pittsburgh to suprisingly be a minor player in the goaltending market starting Sunday, as opposed to many analysts views that the Penguins would keep their main goaltending positions intact (i.e. re-signing Thibault and Schaefer).

The article also states that none of the following will be back in the Penguins organization next season: Eric Cairns, Wade Brookbank, Matt Carkner, Micki Dupont, Joel Kwiatkowski, Richard Litner, Wade Skolney, Nils Ekman, Niklas Nordgren, Ronald Petrovicky, and Libor Pivko.

I understand the moves as to signing Scuderi, and forcing Thibault to hit the market (with the intent of lowering his asking price). However, the entire goaltending situation is perplexing to say the least considering that: 1. Thibault is viewed as really good with Marc-Andre Fleury (teaching and supporting), and therefore most around the organization expected him back for the benefit of Fleury. 2. Shero wasted a pick, even if the lowest pick on a weak draft, on a rental goaltender whom people in the organization seemed very happy to have originally. At the time it was felt that Schaefer would as a minimum also bring a healthy spur of competition into the fold for the NHL backup position, or alternatively be the fall back NHL backup if all went wrong with Thibault or if Shero could not land a capable free-agent if he decided to let Thibault go.

All in all, I am not sure that the move to let Thibault hit the market, which seems to aim at lowering Thibault’s price, will work at all. All due to the fact that now Shero finds himself with an obvious need for goaltenders after letting Schaefer go, and undoubtedly Thibault’s agent will be aware of the fact.

There is the possibility that Shero simply wants to sign someone else altogether as a back-up (and therefore Thibault would be a “plan B” if it all fails), since plenty of non-prominent goaltenders will be available in the market (including Curtis Joseph), but if such is the plan, the big question mark will be if the next back up will work just as well as Thibault has worked with Fleury.

6 Responses to Penguins do not want Scuderi to test market, will let Thibault become UFA.

  1. MR40 says:

    There probably not signing Schaefer, because he probably wants a 1 way contract, and the Pen's probably want him as there minor league goalie.

  2. WE-DeusEx says:

    seems like Pittsburgh has ALOT of work to do over the summer. i didnt think there were this many players unsigned on the pens. 16? wow!

  3. tancred says:

    The deal Pittsburgh made for Schaefer last year surprised me, because there was a lot of talk from SJ about how great he was.  And then he goes for a 7th rounder?  And then the Penguins seem to have no intention of signing him?  What happened to make this guy's desirability go down the drain?  

    Coming from a Devils fan, I wish NJ would take a chance on signing a good back-up goalie.  No offense to Clemmenson, but I'm not sold on him.  I totally wouldn't mind if NJ tried signing Thibault or some other tested (but still relatively cheap and still back-up) goalie.  They could take a lot more pressure off Brodeur, and leave him a bit more rested for the playoffs (if things go well, and they make the post-season).
  4. kamullia says:

    That is without a doubt one of the possibilities. However, everyone from the Sharks side and more importantly the Penguins side that I have heard talk about Schaefer had nothing but raving reviews of him as a goaltender.

    He also acquitted himself well during his stay with the farm team in WBS and during the AHL playoffs, therefore there was not anything obvious to simply discard his services. And in that light, and being the Penguins have given Shero green light to spend up to the cap limit by Burkle, Lemieux, et al (although Shero has intentionally basically refused to do so), it is not like the money is not there for a good backup who can possibly become even a great #1 goalie in the future (now obviously if that becomes the case, the Pens could trade him, because I doubt he would unseat Fleury).

    The last I am told by most media friends who are regulars at Penguins outings, is that their best guess is not what you reasoning, but that Shero must have targeted some available free-agents as a better fit for the organization, and who knows, he might be right. Their speculation comes all in part because of this Shero talk about Thibault possibly re-signing with the Pens from the free-agent market, which gives them the impression (and it also does to me) that Thibault is the back-up plan, in case the people who Shero is really interested in fall-through in being acquired.

    To me the real question is…who would be Shero targeting for all the goaltending positions, which as I count they come up to a minimum of 4 (NHL backup, AHL #1, AHL backup, and ECHL #1). Now you have to guess that one of them will be a player within the Penguins system (i.e. a prospect) and my best guess is that Shero is planning to give a contract to either Bobby Goepfert or David Brown (it is a close call to me on who is best, but if I had to guess I’d say Goepfert). Both Goepfert and Brown have recently had good showings and it is not a bad idea to find out what they have in store. But realistically, neither one is expected to ever reach the #1 goaltender status for any NHL team. No, not even Tampa and their atrophic goaltending pool (not like the Penguins pool is much better either).

    But I went into a tangent there, the case still is, who is Shero willing to target as NHL backup? Could it be Curtis Joseph? He is available, and he has expressed willingness to take a backup role (although that was specifically for a return to Toronto). Now it that specifically sounds good on paper, CuJo teaching and giving insights to Marc-André Fleury, and giving capable backup goaltending (although that is a guess, since not everyone is good coming cool off the bench after sitting for 15+ games, and it has been a long long time since CuJo was primarily designated to backup duty). But just because a goaltender is good, it does not mean he is a good support for the #1 goaltender, and that is a humongously (yes, I just made up the word) huge question that in my view is not worth trying to find out. In other words, if Thibault with all his flaws and spring-loaded rebounding pads (you guessed right, all in all I wish he never became a Penguin) is good for Fleury, do not mess with it. Fleury is the real key here and I think it is too much of a gamble to go look for someone else to fit nicely with him. Fleury has been screwed around with too much during his entire NHL career, and now that finally he gets a glimpse of stability and no controversies, I do not think is the time to figure out if there will be other issues that Fleury will have to deal with, with a change.

    I say it was better to just sign Thibault and let it be, just for one year, and give Fleury a real hold on his pads as a starting goaltender, than go out and mess with the guy again given his past with the organization (during Patrick’s years).

  5. kamullia says:

    16 does sound like a lot, but you have to realize that includes the minor-leaguers and even players who are not even in North-America. For example, Richard Litner is a Penguin just in rights, but he basically refused to play for the Pens. With Litner, basically he is a defenseman, but literally a really really worthless defenseman in his own end. However, he had incredible offensive capabilities, much higher than most forwards. Great skater, incredible shot, absolutely amazing puck-handling skills, especially through traffic. Therefore the Penguins asked him to become a forward, and somehow in the translation from English to Slovakian, that became a death-wish to his mother. End result was that Litner said he would play defense, or not play in North America at all…and he has kept his word from far, far away. Libor Pivko is also a Penguin just in signing rights, and so on.

    The point is, that just because they have 16 free-agents to be, does not mean they are worthy ones (like the fail experiment called Nils Ekman), or even NHL-caliber ones.

    The main story here is still Thibault not being an offer, and Ouellet being allowed to walk. In the end, both those guys might be back, after all, but it is still worthy news as far as the Penguins are concerned.

  6. kamullia says:

    I have always been surprised at the fact that Lamoriello, of all GMs, has never somehow kept an ace up his sleeve as far as goaltenders go. Yes, Brodeur is awesome and he loves playing many games, but age is bound to catch up to him, like everyone else.

    I also think it is way overdue for the Devils to quit shedding the last-minute signings of Clemmenson as backup to Brodeur, and as a minimum invest some picks, and if not, meaningful trades into signing a future #1 goaltending.

    Just think this. If Brodeur by some, God forbid, freak accident (and by God, with all the goaltending contacts ever since the new CBA this is not that far fetched) was unable to ever put on the pads again, New Jersey would be left, as the Italians say, with only two hands to cover up their privates.

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