When you win the Stanley Cup, you can safely assume that some of the pieces that got you there are going to ask for raises. When you win it twice in two years, you can pretty much guarantee it. This is the dilemma facing the Pittsburgh Penguins who are the defending Stanley Cup Champions and have some key free agents looking for new deals.
By a variety of accounts, those deals will not be made with the Pens and players like Chris Kunitz, Trevor Daley, Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen will be playing in different jerseys next season.
Nick Bonino Lucky Number 10
Nick Bonino could be the most overpaid free agent to be signed on July 1. There is a bonafide bidding war brewing for the 29-year-old center. A mildly productive regular season offensive player, Bonino has had one 49-point season and his closest mark to that was in 2014-15 when he scored 39 points with Vancouver Canucks. Last season he had 37 points in 80 games.
Many teams in the market for a center have connected with Nick Bonino. At least 10 teams are said to have serious interest at this stage.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 29, 2017
That said, he’s shined in the postseason where he has in 40 points in 71 total games. Teams are prepared to pay for that type of performance and to the tune of 4 years and more than $16 million.
The Penguins don’t intend to match those offers and are going to look at other options.
Kunitz Doesn’t Know Where He’ll Go
— Post-Gazette Sports (@PGSportsNow) June 29, 2017
While the Penguins have expressed interest in retaining Chris Kunitz, outside interest in the winger is complicating the process. As Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette details, “Agent Ben Hankinson, who represents Kunitz, said he’s fielded calls from as many as 10 teams with a legitimate shot at knocking off the Penguins next season, all interested in signing Kunitz.”
It appears, that while offers are not technically supposed to be out there at this stage, there are likely at least two or three teams that could offer Kunitz more money and a bigger role than the Penguins could. That has to be enticing to Kunitz who is now 37 years old and possibly getting his last real shot at a multi-year contract. The Minnesota Wild appear to be in on Kunitz.
Speaking of the Minnesota Wild, they have also reached out to Matt Cullen’s camp. Word is, his group has not informed the Wild if Cullen will be retiring or playing another year.
Should the veteran center choose to play again, Pittsburgh has a shot, but there are a handful of teams that would be interested in bringing Cullen in on a one-year deal and helping their depth as a fourth-line pivot.
Trevor Daley to Boston
Mark Madden also reported that the Penguins are not confident they’ll retain defenseman Trevor Daley and will look at other options come July 1. Pierre LeBrun from TSN followed that up with his own update on the Daley situation, stating a couple teams had some interest.
Boston and Detroit both contenders for the services of UFA D Trevor Daley.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 29, 2017
Elliotte Friedman believes Daley to Detroit is all but a formality at this point.
The Penguins will be looking at filling roster spots this summer. It appears they just won’t be looking internally. Such is often the case with successful teams and the Penguins are smart not to overpay for performances that may not be repeated.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”