Jordan Staal battles for the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning's Victor Hedman during a February game at the Consol Energy Center.
By Dave Molinari Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jordan Staal has had two months since the Penguins' season ended to let management know that he'd like to play elsewhere.
General manager Ray Shero said today that, to this point, Staal has done nothing of the sort.
Staal hasn't told the Penguins he wants out because he'd like to fill a different role for his team, or because he believes he could make more money in another city than he could by staying here.
Consequently, while there are no guarantees -- Staal obviously could make it known at any time that he wants to be elsewhere after his contract expires in 2013, if not sooner -- Shero seems cautiously optimistic that Staal sees his long-term future being with the Penguins.
While noting that, "we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves," Shero said that he believes that "if (Staal) wanted to move on, he would have told me already. And he hasn't told me that."
There's always a chance that Staal hasn't been able to focus on his playing future because of a preoccupation with other matters -- he's getting married Friday -- but the Penguins have cause to be encouraged that he has not asked out.
Paul Krepelka, who is Staal's agent, declined to discuss Staal's future "out of respect to the process as well as the Penguins organization." Shero said he expects to speak with Krepelka at the NHL draft this weekend at Consol Energy Center.
Shero said that although teams have inquired about Staal's availability, his message to them has been consistent: "I want to re-sign Jordan."
Staal is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after next season, at which time he would be able to sign wherever he wanted. If that happened, the Penguins would not be entitled to any compensation, which is why they would look to trade him if he did not want to stay with this franchise, long-term.
While Shero hopes he will not be forced to trade Staal, he acknowledged that he expects to trade a defenseman or two before next season, when the Penguins will have nine of them who would have to clear waivers to go to the American Hockey League.
"Plenty of other teams know I have nine waiver-eligible defensemen," he said. "They are calling about our defense."
Shero declined comment when asked if any of his veteran defensemen have been asked to waive no-trade or no-movement clauses in their contracts.
The Penguins either have extended, or will extend, qualifying offers to all of their significant restricted free agents. They include Matt Niskanen, Eric Tangradi, Keven veilleux, Brian Strait, Robert Bortuzzo, Alex Grant and Carl Sneep.
The dealine for such offers is Monday. Extending them entitles a team to match any offer an RFA would get from another team, or to receive compensation if it declines to match the offer.
Potential RFAs Mattias Modig, Boris Valabik, Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Alexandre Picard are not expected to receive qualifying offers and will become unrestricted.
Shero said he has not had contract talks with any of the Penguins' unrestricted free agents, but sounded as if he will try to retain wingers Steve Sullivan and Arron Asham.
"Sullivan and Asham have been good players for us," he said. "We'll have to see exactly where we are after the draft."
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