Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Shero Turns Attention to Free Agents

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Shero Turns Attention to Free Agents

Article excerpt

Penguins general manager Ray Shero is about to expand the scope of his busy offseason, but it will not include using the compliance or "amnesty" clause in the new collective bargaining agreement to buy out any players' contracts.

"Those are the rules now. You have two," Shero said Thursday. "But from where we are, that's not something we're looking at."

After the completion of the Stanley Cup final, the Penguins could buy out one or two players' contracts, which would make those players unrestricted free agents and wipe their salary-cap hits off the team's logs. The salary cap will drop from $70.2 million this season to $64.3 million next season, and the Penguins have a lot of players to try to squeeze in.

Shero -- who last week worked out deals to extend the contracts of coach Dan Bylsma and center Evgeni Malkin -- has focused on defenseman Kris Letang and winger Pascal Dupuis in recent days, opening talks with their agents. With free agency approaching, he wants to begin to juggle more.

"I need to get in touch with a few other agents as well, continue that process," Shero said. "I'd like to have all the information I need to make some decisions over the next 10 days. I want to be in touch with [impending] unrestricted free agents and guys who have a year left [on their contract] now that they've had time to sit down with families and agents."

Dupuis and six others -- forwards Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Matt Cooke and Craig Adams, and defensemen Douglas Murray and Mark Eaton -- will become unrestricted free agents if not re-signed by July 5. Letang and nine others will enter the final year of their contract and could sign extensions beginning July 5 that would begin in 2014-15.

Dupuis is 34 and coming off of one of his best seasons with 20 goals, 38 points while playing in all 48 games of the lockout- shortened season. That made him a bargain with a cap hit of $1.5 million, but also a coveted goal-scorer who could command a large raise and multi-year deal should he hit the free-agent market.

He is also the preferred right winger of Sidney Crosby and has expressed a strong desire to remain with the Penguins.

"He's certainly deserving of a raise," Shero said. …

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