Pens Sign Goligoski To Three-Year Deal, Will Probably Frickin’ Use Him Now

P-G:

The Penguins signed defenseman Alex Goligoski to a three-year contract today.

The deal is worth a total of $5.5 million, and carries an annual salary-cap hit of $1,833,333.

Goligoski was scheduled to become a restricted free agent July 1.

This is good news — With Goligoski under contract and presumably ready to make the full-time leap to the NHL, that fills up five of the Pens’ six 2009-10 starting D spots with Gonchar, Orpik, Letang, Eaton, and now Goligoski. In a perfect world, the Pens would also sign Rob Scuderi for something reasonable, round out the starting six, then bank on a cheap veteran 7th option and/or Ben Lovejoy as their first wave of alternates, but I’m growing increasingly skeptical that signing Scuderi will be possible. What would keep Scuderi here if Atlanta or someone were to offer him a Jay McKee-style $4+ million deal? Surely the Pens couldn’t match it and probably wouldn’t want to anyway, and the 30-year-old Scuderi wouldn’t hesitate to maximize what might be his only offseason as a prized free agent.

I predict that more likely, Scuderi will walk for some borderline-ridiculous deal, and the Pens’ D corps next season will include the 5 players currently under contract, plus one additional cheap veteran (maybe Hal Gill, maybe someone else who’s great at deflecting pucks by Fleury), with Ben Lovejoy and a minor-league free agent as the 7th and 8th options.

The potential wildcard situation — and I’m not sure if I’m even advocating this, just a thought — would be to explore possible trades for Sergei Gonchar, maybe for a winger who’s also nearing UFA status, in the hopes that Letang and Goligoski can shoulder the power play burden, and the Pens can add a forward in the short-term and possibly save a million or two in ’09-10 cap space to re-sign Scuderi or another veteran stay-at-home defenseman (though they don’t come cheap — Tom Poti makes $3.5 million and is not a good player of hockey).

Either way, the Goligoski signing was an inevitable move but a good one, and if he maintains his offensive output over the course of a full season next year, the Pens won’t be missing Ryan Whitney anytime soon. As long as Goligoski starts making some more easily-intercepted breakaway passes to Mike Richards.

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