Penguins Notebook: Shero patiently looks for winger
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Ray Shero was quick to act at the free-agency bell, but the Penguins' general manager now is practicing patience.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, he said, nothing was imminent in terms of adding to an NHL roster that is solid enough to take into training camp if no viable moves surface.
"We're set in terms of defense and [in] goal, and up front we're pretty good," said Shero, who last week signed defensemen Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek to replace Sergei Gonchar and others.
The Penguins had interest in former New Jersey center Rob Niedermayer, but he agreed to a one-year, $1.15 million deal with Buffalo.
"We're just looking around to see if anybody fits, and we're keeping Billy Guerin in mind as well," Shero said of the veteran winger who became a free agent July 1.
With most free-agent wingers the wrong fit, Shero is looking for a center as the team considers shifting Jordan Staal or Evgeni Malkin from center to wing.
Shero said coach Dan Bylsma can use training camp to determine the configuration in that scenario. Staal, who has developed into arguably the top third-line center in the NHL, played some on Malkin's flank on the second line earlier in his career. Malkin occasionally moves to wing on the top line with center Sidney Crosby.
Shero said any major additions to the roster could come at any time this offseason, by free-agent signing or by trade, or the Penguins could plug gaps with young players and keep the $2 million to $3 million in available salary cap space for later moves.
One variable Shero wants to monitor is the play of Max Talbot, who had a down season in 2009-10 -- two goals, seven points in 45 games -- after having shoulder surgery last July. Talbot, when at the top of his game, can serve as a third- or fourth-line center or hold down a wing on one of the top lines.
"We need Max to show up and be the player he was two years ago," Shero said.
"Max's training camp will kind of tell us where he is -- center or wing, top line, fourth line, whatever it is. We're expecting to see a much better version of Max Talbot, and so is he. It's an added benefit to have guys that are versatile."
While they did not make a major move, the Penguins continued to build depth in their organization by agreeing to terms with Andrew Hutchinson.
The one-year, two-way contract will pay the right-handed defenseman $500,000 at the NHL level, less in the minor leagues.
Hutchinson, 30, has 12 goals and 38 points in 135 NHL games with four clubs, most recently with Dallas, although he spent all last season in the American Hockey League.
Shero was the assistant GM in Nashville when the Predators drafted Hutchinson in the second round in 1999.
The Penguins made a couple of in-house moves in their scouting department, promoting pro scout Derek Clancey to director of professional scouting, and re-signing Andre Savard as a pro scout.
Savard was an assistant on former coach Michel Therrien's staff and moved into scouting upon Therrien's ouster. Clancey has been with the Penguins for three seasons.
The Penguins have two former NHL general managers in their scouting department -- Savard held that job at Montreal, and former Ottawa and Florida general manager Randy Sexton last week joined the club as assistant director of amateur scouting.
First Published July 8, 2010 12:00 am