Q: Do you see any chance the Penguins would try to sign Brendan Shanahan? I know it's still early in the season and there is no reason to panic. It just seems like the perfect fit for both sides. He is a guy that would give the Penguins exactly what they need -- a goal-scoring winger with tons of experience. I cannot imagine he would cost too much and would probably do a one-year deal, especially to play on a contender.
MOLINARI: Shanahan has done everything shy of taking out a full-page ad (and be assured that a lot of newspaper executives wish he would go that route) to make the point that, if at all possible, he wants to re-sign with the New York Rangers. New York general manager Glen Sather has alternately ignored, led on and jerked around Shanahan since the end of last season, and Shanahan still hasn't seriously investigated offers to join other teams. He also has continued to work out at New York's practice facility, at least when Rangers management allowed him to do so.
Precisely what the Rangers are planning for Shanahan isn't known, but New York's stellar 5-0 start, which ties the franchise record for victories at the start of a season, suggests the team isn't suffering greatly from the absences of veterans like Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka and Shanahan, who were part of the team's nucleus in 2007-08.
While Shanahan's leadership skills and other intangibles are unquestioned, he is 39 years old, and it is a bit of a reach to describe him as "a goal-scoriing winger" anymore. Not one of the caliber that the Penguins would like to have on Sidney Crosby's left side, anyway.
Of course, the whole issue probably is moot because, even if the Penguins were interested in adding Shanahan to their depth chart, and he were interested in coming here, they wouldn't be able to fit him in under the salary cap unless they were willing to trim someone off their major-league roster. That could be done, obviously, but even if Shanahan could be slipped in under the cap ceiling, management would have to consider the impact of relinquishing another spot on its 50-player list and taking on another salary, from a bottom-line fiscal perspective.
Q: Say that neither the Pens nor the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup next spring. Given the number of core players the Wings will need to re-sign, what do you think are the chances that Hossa signs with the Pens next summer?
Paul Czajka, Lansdale, Pa.
MOLINARI: A bit less than microscopic. Which is to say, smaller even than the moderator of this forum believed the odds of the Penguins acquiring him at the trade deadline were.
It's not because any of the decision-makers carry a grudge against Hossa -- they recognize the obvious risks in allowing emotion to color business judgments -- but because it's hard to imagine the Penguins having the salary-cap space to accommodate the kind of contract he is sure to command, especially when Evgeni Malkin's new deal will be kicking in and Jordan Staal will be in line for one of this own.
With the Penguins likely to be hard-pressed to squeeze guys already on their payroll in under the cap, they would have to work some sort of fiscal alchemy -- or, at the very least, to detect a major loophole in the collective bargaining agreement that no one has hit upon yet -- to be able to bring in a big-ticket player such as Hossa. Unless, of course, GM Ray Shero would decide to blow up the team framework and long-range development plan that has been put in place over the past few years, and there is absolutely no reason to believe anything of the sort has been, or will be, seriously considered.