Shero has decisions to make on free agents

Max Talbot’s place in this city’s sporting lore is secure forever.

His place with the Penguins probably is not.

Talbot, of course, scored both of the Penguins’ goals in their 2-1 victory in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup final in Detroit, one of the great clutch performances by anyone who has played here in any sport.

His 2009-10 season was sabotaged by shoulder surgery required after the Penguins won that Cup, however, and the first 50 games of 2010-11 have been largely forgettable for him, too.

It’s hardly like the guy is a liability — he’s an integral part of the best penalty-killing unit in the NHL and still can provide a spark with his selfless style — but Talbot doesn’t have a point in 15 games or a goal in 24.

While generating offense is a secondary facet of his job description, Talbot doesn’t usually go through such extended slumps. And frankly, he simply isn’t as visible as often as he has been in other seasons.

None of that would be a significant issue except that Talbot is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Penguins have several forward prospects — guys like Dustin Jeffrey, Eric Tangradi, Nick Johnson and Tim Wallace — on their minor league team in Wilkes-Barre who might be ready to move into NHL jobs next season.

It won’t hurt their chances that younger players tend to work cheaper than veterans, because it is naïve to think that salary cap considerations don’t influence personnel decisions.

Whether Talbot — who has been, at times, the heartbeat of this team — will be deemed expendable by management is hard to say. With the stretch drive and playoffs still ahead, it would be foolish for general manager Ray Shero and his staff to have finalized any decisions about who will be allowed to walk this summer.

Nonetheless, with a seven-figure cap hit ($1,050,000) and such an emphasis on getting the best possible return on every cap dollar, Talbot has to be viewed as a possibility, especially if he’s unable to ratchet up his game over the next few months.

Talbot, though, is not the only forward on the cusp of unrestricted free agency. Here is a list of the others, along with their cap hits and an assessment of where they’ve fit in:

13 Responses to Shero has decisions to make on free agents

  1. Boston_Bruins says:

    If this team has some wingers they'd be unstoppable.

  2. HABSSTAR says:

    Do you think they would take a shot at Kovalev at the deadline?  Would he fit under the cap for the rest of the season? 

  3. hockey_lover says:

    I dont believe the cap space is there and I wouldnt want him anyway. He is old, unmotivated, is on pace for his worst season ever …. no thanks.  Id much rather stick with what we have than give up anything for this guy.

  4. hockey_lover says:

    While I agree with that sentiment (quite a bit actually), they seem to be doing pretty well anyway.

    Consider that they are 5th overall in the standings, 6th overall in scoring, 2nd in GAA, best penalty kill .. all without Malkin playing even remotely close to what he can, its not THAT bad. Also, Crosby has missed 10 games in which they are 6-3-1 and 2-1 without both Crosby and Malkin. Not too bad really.

    I do agree though, that once the playoffs come around, a decent winger for Malkin would be nice. Crosby-Kunitz-Dupuis seem to be doing just fine thus far. Its Malkins line that is suffering. They need something to spark him. Anything. Once that happens and he gets back to his 1.25 PPG average, along with a decent winger, they will be pretty tough to stop in the playoffs.

    Then again, apparantly "defense wins championships" .. so, by that logic, the Pens are doing pretty good. Martin has showed to be an excellent pick up, while Michalek has been decent but not stellar. Engelland has been an excellent surprise and Lovejoy is doing a serviceable job. Orpik is his usual solid stay at home type. Letang .. well, nothing needs to be said here. He is having a phenominal season.  My wildcard is Goligoski. While I love his production, I cant stand his defensive breakdowns. I think that being on pace for 40 points and a $1.8 cap hit for one more season, his value has never been higher. In my opinion, he is the guy to use as trade bait at the deadline to get a winger. Again, nothing spectacular. I wasnt sure if Matt Moulson was going to sign in NYI, but I had thought of something like Goligoski and a 2nd going to NYI for Moulson but thats obviously done now.

    All in all, the Pens are in good shape and have, in my opinion, proven that their depth isnt quite as bad as people think. Its certainly not top shelf, but its not that bad. If Malkin can get going and the defense/Fleury keep up this current level of play, the Pens will be dangerous in the playoffs.

  5. HABSSTAR says:

    All valid points.  I just tossed it out there because if he's ever going to have a "last hurra" then I think it would be with Malkin or Crosby.  But you're right the risk is probably greater than the likely reward.

  6. hockey_lover says:

    Nah, I dont think it would work. Its his lack of heart that bothers me. He has SO much talent but zero desire.

    I hope he goes back to Montreal for his last two years and does well. I dont wish ill will on the guy, but I just dont want to see him in a Pens uniform.

  7. HABSSTAR says:

    A part of me would like to see him come back and clean up, but the other, more lucid part of me knows he'll have one or two games where he's on fire and the fans love him and then he'll sink back into the shadows and float.  Man when he was on he was something to watch…  Maybe he suffers from depression or something. 

  8. 93killer93 says:

    2nd, Goloubef

    Talbot, Bortuzzo, Conner, Pit 2011 2nd,(Clb) 2nd, Engelland
    Penner, Fraser, Belle
    Kovalev, 5th

    Weber, Ellis
    Sbisa, Goligoski, Sexton,(Pit) 1st 2011,(Pit)2nd 2012, 2nd(Ana) 2011



  9. hockey_lover says:

    Kovalev? No, no and more no. He's done. He's old, unmotivated and doesnt fit in with Bylsma's aggressive style .. since Alex likes to float. It isnt worth giving up a 4th rounder, let alone Dupuis.

    I dont really think we need Weber. We have Letang and Goligoski who provide most of the offensive load. While Michalek hasnt exactly panned out 100%, its not like he is playing horribly. Besides, I dont think Nashville gives up their best dman, even for that package.

    I dont mind the idea of getting Penner but to deal Engelland now is insane. He just signed for 3 years at $550K/year and has been really solid. You want to give up on him already? Not a chance.

  10. hockey_lover says:

    Nah, he suffers from "I dont give a vodka soaked beret" syndrome.

  11. 93killer93 says:

    Ya i just went over that now i ment to deal Lovejoy and keep Engelland as the 6th/7th defenseman.

  12. hockey_lover says:

    Thats a much better loss to deal with 🙂

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