Penguins' Shero not yet concerned with free agents
Free agents are not a front-burner concern for Penguins general manager Ray Shero.
Not at the moment, anyway.
The top priority now is getting through the amateur-scouting meetings he's overseeing this week.
Still, Shero said Tuesday that he has "had a few conversations" recently with some of the Penguins' free-agents-to-be and their representatives about contracts to replace the ones that will expire at the end of next month.
Max Talbot, Pascal Dupuis, Mike Rupp and Craig Adams top the list of forwards who will be unrestricted if not re-signed by July 1, while Tyler Kennedy and Dustin Jeffrey are the most prominent of the Penguins' potential restricted free agents.
"A number of guys are role players who have done good jobs for us," Shero said.
Although negotiations with most of the potential free agents probably won't begin in earnest until after the Penguins' June 6-8 pro-scouting meetings, Shero would not rule out striking a deal or two before then.
"If something comes around in the next couple of weeks and we can finalize something, that would be great," he said.
The Penguins are believed to have about $55.7 million committed to 17 players who figure to be on their major league roster next season.
Although the salary-cap ceiling for 2011-12 has not been set, Shero said "there's only so much money to go around" and how some negotiations play out could affect others because "you don't negotiate in a vacuum."
Penguins center Sidney Crosby is expected to meet with his concussion specialist, Dr. Michael Collins, before the end of the month.
Assuming he sticks to his plan to be back in town by then, that is.
Shero said Crosby "has been on vacation for a couple of weeks," apparently including a trip with some teammates to the Cannes Film Festival in France.
Crosby, who didn't play after Jan. 5 because of a concussion, had been participating in some no-contact practices and game-day skates during the Penguins' first-round playoff series last month against Tampa Bay. He was, however, advised at one point by Collins to stay off skates for about a week.
They were supposed to meet and evaluate Crosby's workout regimen April 28, but the Penguins season ended April 27, eliminating any need for that session.
"There was no reason for him to get cleared for anything [once the Penguins were eliminated]," Shero said. "He was going on vacation to relax. He has all kinds of time at this point."
Former Penguins right winger Jaromir Jagr suggested Sunday that he'd consider returning to the NHL to play for the Penguins, Montreal or New York Rangers next season.
Whether any of those clubs would be interested in signing him might be another matter.
When asked if the Penguins would consider doing so, Shero responded, "We have not discussed it internally -- put it that way."
The Penguins, though, have invited Jagr back for a reunion of the 1991 Stanley Cup team this summer.
While Shero was in Slovakia for the world championships last week -- he watched Jagr and his Czech teammates defeat the United States, 4-0 -- a team official here mentioned to him that the Penguins have had trouble reaching Jagr since he left the NHL in 2008 and asked if Shero could pass along an invitation to the reunion to him.
Shero agreed but did not cross paths with Jagr -- "I've never met Jaromir Jagr in my life," he said -- and turned the invitation over to Czech defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
Whether Michalek actually got the invitation into Jagr's hands isn't known just yet, Shero said.
First Published May 18, 2011 12:00 am