Penguins Notebook: To go to arbitration or not

Armstrong faces that decision today

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Right winger Colby Armstrong, one of five restricted free agents the Penguins are trying to re-sign, has until 5 p.m. today to decide whether to file for salary arbitration.

His agent, Craig Oster, said yesterday that determination will be made after a negotiating session with assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher today.

"We're planning on talking again, then we'll decide on whether [to preserve the option of going to arbitration] by nature of our discussion," Oster said.

Even if Armstrong requests arbitration -- the probable course of action unless an agreement is reached today, which seems unlikely -- a deal can reached before his case is heard.

Oster also represents forward Erik Christensen and said talks to date with Fletcher about both of his clients "have been relatively productive and open."

Because the Penguins extended qualifying offers to both, they have the right to match any offer either would get from another team or to receive compensation if they would decline to match. Neither Armstrong nor Christensen seems likely to receive an offer sheet from another club.

Because Armstrong appears to be settling into a blue-collar niche with the Penguins while Christensen's role still has not been defined, Oster said he has "more to discuss [about Christensen] than we do with Colby."

Armstrong will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in three years, but Oster said negotiations have not advanced to a point where the sides have settled on the length of a deal for either player.

"We're talking more conceptually about where the players fit in," he said. "Things will begin to get more in detail and significant starting [today]."

Therrien contract update

Penguins coach Michel Therrien, like Sidney Crosby, is under contract for one more year.

And, like Crosby, he can expect a new deal to get serious attention in the near future.

General manager Ray Shero said he is optimistic an extension can be reached relatively soon, even though it has not been a front-burner issue to this point.

"We haven't had a lot of time to spend on it," he said. "But I'm comfortable with where we are, and I think [Therrien] is, too."

Crosby to resume skating

Crosby hasn't skated since the Penguins' first-round playoff series against Ottawa because of the broken foot he played on for several weeks, but he said yesterday he expects to get back on the ice soon.

"The foot is great," he said. "I'm going to start skating here in the next week or so, so I should really get a good feeling for how it's going to be on the ice.

"As far as off the ice, I haven't had a problem with it."

The injury forced him to be almost completely idle during the first six weeks or so of the offseason instead of simply ratcheting back on his activities, but he thinks that might prove to be a good thing.

"I wasn't able to play tennis or golf or anything like that," said Crosby, who has undertaken his standard training regimen. "It was really a month off, but I think that was one of the best things for me.

"It was a long season. Not that I like breaking bones, but I think the rest has done me good."



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