Penguins' Shero expects progress on deals for Recchi, Roberts 'soon'
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With the NHL entry draft a month away, Penguins general manager Ray Shero has been busy in meetings with his scouting staff.
That's not all that has occupied his time.
Shero said yesterday he continues to work on re-signing veteran wingers Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts, who are unrestricted free agents, and probably will explore a contract extension with coach Michel Therrien.
Shero has spoken to Rick Curran, who represents Recchi and Roberts, a few times the past few weeks and spoke with Recchi late last week.
"I anticipate talking to their agent again this week, and, hopefully, we'll find out where we are one way or the other pretty soon," Shero said.
Recchi, 39, and Roberts, who was obtained at the February trade deadline and turns 41 tomorrow, provided leadership for a primarily young club.
"I'm hopeful. I'm determined," Shero said. "I'd like to have both back. I think they both added a great deal to our hockey club. I made it clear to both Gary and Mark I want them back.
"We'll see if it works out. We'll be optimistic until it's not [feasible], and if it's not, then we'll go to a plan B. But I'm going to hold out hope. We've had some good talks."
Therrien, who is a finalist for the Jack Adams award for NHL coach of the year after guiding the Penguins to 105 points and a playoff berth, is on vacation.
"When he gets back, I plan to sit down with him and talk about this season, how he sees things," Shero said. "We talked about the parameters of maybe talking about an extension for him. We'll wait and see. I haven't gotten really into it with him, but I'll talk to him when he does come back about him and the staff."
No Staals available
Shero said there won't be any crossover between his free agency moves or decisions this summer and who the Penguins want to draft.
So fans shouldn't get their hopes up that the Penguins, who have the No. 20 selection in the first round June 22, will draft a player who can come close to repeating what No. 2 overall pick Jordan Staal did last season.
Staal not only stuck with the Penguins as an 18-year-old, but he also scored 29 goals and led the NHL in short-handed goals and shooting percentage.
"The guy we're going to get at 20, or any of the guys we're going to get at this year's draft, are most likely not going to impact our team for a number of years," Shero said.
Shero and first-year director of amateur scouting Jay Heinbuck are sticking with the standard philosophy of getting the best available player regardless of position.
"It's no different than drafting Jordan Staal last year," Shero said. "Everybody said, 'You already have [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin. Why would you take a center?' Well, we said good players want to play with good players, and Jordan certainly is a good player."
Staal spent much of his rookie season playing left wing.
Shero is part of the new advisory committee for USA Hockey and was in Moscow for the International Ice Hockey Federation for the recent world championships.
"It was very rewarding, very good to be a part of USA Hockey and the group, to be around guys like that, other managers, see a lot of different players, get to know them off the ice," Shero said. "I think it benefits me as a manager."
The United States advanced to the quarterfinals, where it lost to Finland, 5-4, in a shootout.
Shero isn't sure how he would feel if the Penguins were asked to participate in the Victoria Cup, a pre-training camp tournament in Europe beginning in September 2008 that would include the European Champions Cup winner, at least one other European team and an NHL club.
Eventually, organizers would like to have the Stanley Cup champion participate. In the meantime, it's conceivable the Penguins would be attractive because of stars such as Crosby, Malkin, Staal and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
"I don't know enough about it," Shero said. "I'm not sure how long you'd have to be over there. We'll wait and see."
Longtime Penguins play-by-play broadcaster Mike Lange, who moved from TV to radio last season, said he had no information on his status for next season. ... The Penguins, who lasted just five games in the playoffs, weren't the only ones to have trouble with the Senators, who have advanced to the Stanley Cup final. "I guess every game that Ottawa wins, we feel a little bit better about ourselves," Shero said. ... While he was in Moscow, Shero asked the agent for former Penguins forward Aleksey Morozov about his status, but Shero does not expect to see him back in a Pittsburgh uniform. "He has a year left on his contract over in Russia, which I believe he can get out of, but I'm not even sure because the agent didn't seem sure," Shero said. "I'm basically moving beyond that and moving forward. Too many question marks for me." ... The Penguins are holding youth hockey camps in June and August for children ages 5-17. Call 412-642-1329 or visit the youth hockey section at www.pittsburghpenguins.com.
First Published May 21, 2007 11:25 pm