With the signing of forward Dustin Jeffrey to a one-year, $625,000 contract earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves nearly $500,000 over the NHL’s 2013-14 salary cap, which is set at $64.3 million.
As we’ve discussed before on City of Champions, general manager Ray Shero has until opening night in early October to get the Penguins under the cap. But although Shero and his staff have time to maneuver, they’d rather get in compliance sooner than later, if only to have flexibility once training camp arrives in mid-September.
A trade is the most likely option for the Penguins, with veterans Jussi Jokinen, Tanner Glass and Matt Niskanen standing out as prime candidates to wear a different jersey in the fall.
The 30-year-old Jokinen, whom the Penguins owe $2.1 million next season, would appear to be the first on the trading block. Although he is a versatile player who seemed to fit well while skating at center late in the regular season, Jokinen has the least amount of tenure in Pittsburgh of the three mentioned above. Getting the Finn’s salary off the books would also allow the Pens to have more leeway against the cap.
Glass, a 29-year-old bottom-six forward, is due to make $1.1 million in 2013-14. He was largely ineffective in 2013, his first season in Pittsburgh. Glass is the least valuable of the likely trade options, as his rough-and-tumble skill set didn’t translate well to coach Dan Bylsma’s system during the lockout-shortened season.
Niskanen would seem to be the least probable to be dealt, although shedding his $2.5 million paycheck would provide the most cap space to the Penguins. The 26-year-old defenseman with offensive upside had a bit of a down year in 2013, decreasing his value in the last year of his contract. Pittsburgh’s recent signing of blueliner Brendan Mikkelson to an NHL/AHL deal gives the Pens some insurance if they decide to pare down their defense corps.
What do you think? Who would you trade if you had Shero’s spot?
City of Champions staff writer Larry Snyder joined me for a summertime edition of the Gospel of Hockey today. We discussed the Penguins’ recent signings and trade options, as well as other offseason issues around the NHL and the sport in general, including some news from RMU in our Local Hockey Report: