Do the Pittsburgh Penguins have a Cap management problem yes or no. If yes, who goes? If no why not?
Coach Dickenson: This is another yes and no situation. This team by all accounts should have won another cup by now, and itís become apparent Evgeni Malkin seems to play his best hockey if heís the unrivaled star playerÖ however you canít just trade a Malkin or a Crosby, so they have to look at other solutions. While theyíre very close to the cap and donít have any real solutions to escape it short of getting weaker as a team, Iím guessing they try to shake things up with something big this off season. Maybe trade Jordan Staal, who allegedly would like to be #1 centre somewhere and get Crosby a running mate who can play on his wing. I have a strange feeling the Flames could make good bedfellows here maybe looking at a deal with starting points being Miikka Kipprusoff and Jarome Iginla going to the Pens and Tyler Kennedy, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury going to the Flames. This would allow the Pens to make another run, with a Iginla-Crosby tandem and a more consistent goaltender, while the Flames start off the rebuild with a younger keeper and a younger number one centre in Staal to build around. Call it a hunch.
Coach Brouwer: The Penguins are going to have some big cap issues to deal with. Paul Martin is not worth $5million and Zbynek Michalek is not worth $4 million; those are two big cap hits. The Pens have just under $5million cap space heading into next season ($64 million upper limit) and the need to sign three forwards, a defenseman and a back-up goalie. Their priority needs to be a back-up goalie they have trust in as when Marc-Andre Fleury struggles like in the playoffs, they need someone they can throw in there that can stop a puck. They need to try to move either Michalek or Martin for sure to free up some space.
Coach Perry: I do not believe the Penguins have any issues. The reason for that is they do not have one single player on their team that is making more than they are worth. Salary is only a problem if you can't move the player that is tied to it. They can chart their own course. Do they want Malkin, Neal, Letang and Crosby? Fine, they will get more than fair market value for Staal as a potential 1st line centre that 35% of NHL teams need. What about Staal, Neal, Letang and Crosby? Fine, they could move Malkin for 1st overall + in any year, with the exception of maybe MacKinnon's year. If the next CBA includes a poison pill clause then they can shed Paul Martin's $5 million for extra cushion. I can't think of a team that has more cap and talent flexibility than the Penguins. They just require even more solid decision making that aligns with their current plan.
Coach Harling: At a glance, no. They have 18 players signed for next season at a cap hit of under $60 million ($59.566). However, that is the final year in the contracts of both Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal, both of which will become UFA's after next season. That is where the danger lies, in that they will no be able to afford to resign both. The idea of trading Jordan Staal in this off season is unsavory to say the least, but the idea of losing him to free agency for nothing in a year is simply unacceptable. Now is the time to make some hard choices in Pittsburgh.