Penguins Notebook: Christensen, Talbot get new two-year contracts
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Erik Christensen and Maxime Talbot got two-year contracts from the Penguins yesterday, and assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher figures that isn't all they have in common.
"Both are 23 and established themselves as regular NHL players last year," he said. "They were both disappointed to be sent down at end of training camp but went to Wilkes-Barre with a great attitude and got called up quickly.
"We see both as NHL regular players now, but both have untapped potential. We think there's a lot more in both players that will surface over next couple of years."
Christensen's deal is worth $750,000 each season; Talbot's will pay him $650,000 in 2007-08, $700,000 the following season.
Right winger Colby Armstrong, meanwhile, failed to reach an agreement, and filed for salary arbitration before the 5 p.m. deadline yesterday. That largely is a technicality, though, because the sides will continue to negotiate before his hearing, which has yet to be scheduled, is conducted.
Armstrong's agent, Craig Oster, said, "We've got lots of time to continue to work at it." And Fletcher added, "At some point, Colby will be under contract."
While Talbot's role as a checking-line/energy guy is fairly well-defined, Christensen's niche has yet to become clear.
"He could play anywhere from the first line to the fourth," Fletcher said. "He's a work in progress, as far as where he actually fits in."
Even his position is uncertain, because Christensen, a center by trade, got extensive work on left wing last season. Christensen said yesterday he will accept whatever duty he draws.
"It's what's best for the team," he said. "If [left wing] is where they want me, that's how it is."
What his bosses want is for Christensen to develop into a reliable offensive force, because they believe his skating and skill can translate to a significant number of points.
"We see him being an offensive contributor," Fletcher said. "Exactly what role will be up to Erik, how he performs in camp and how the coaches assess that performance."
Crosby sees good fits
The Penguins' best player believes general manager Ray Shero brought in a couple of pretty good ones earlier this week, when he signed two unrestricted free agents, forward Petr Sykora and defenseman Darryl Sydor.
"I think they're a great fit," center Sidney Crosby said. "They bring a lot of experience, first of all.
"Up front, it brings us some scoring capabilities and, on defense, a defenseman who's pretty complete. Sydor's a great defensive player but also can produce [offensively] and make a good pass and things like that. We got two solid players, for sure."
Sykora and Sydor weren't the most-celebrated -- or expensive -- players available at their respective positions, but Crosby said it's not "a huge issue" that the Penguins don't have the fiscal resources to pursue top-tier free agents.
He even suggested that Sykora and Sydor might have been the best candidates to help this team as it currently is configured, although that point obviously is open to debate.
"It's always easy to say, 'What if?' but maybe we'd have the same team, even with those [financial] capabilities," Crosby said. "It all comes down the players who are going to fit the best.
"I really like our team. Those were two great additions, and they're going to complement our team nicely."
Former Penguins goalie Jocelyn Thibault, an unrestricted free agent, accepted a one-year contract with Buffalo. ... Right winger Mark Recchi's new contract calls for a base salary of $1.75 million, with $250,000 in playoff-related bonuses. ... The Penguins' other restricted free agents are center Tim Brent and defenseman Ryan Lannon. Fletcher said he has not started contract talks with either. ... Christensen lived with the same family while playing junior hockey in Kamloops, British Columbia, that Sydor had when he played for the Blazers.
First Published July 5, 2007 11:32 pm