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Penguins Could Target Bought-Out Players in Free Agency

Alexander Semin would look great on Malkin's wing this season. Photo via USA Today Sports

Alexander Semin would look great on Malkin’s wing this season.
Photo via USA Today Sports

July 1, a.k.a. the day NHL Rosters change forever, is always a crazy time. There ?s a reason they put Frenzy in the day ?s title. With reports of the team ?s intention to add two low-cost, high-rewards Russian wing imports in Sergei Plotnikov and Viktor Tikhonov the Pittsburgh Penguins were off to a strong start. Then they continued small but solid moves by re-signing RFA Ian Cole for 3 years/$6.3M. With draft table insanity came the word that the Penguins wanted to trade for Phil Kessel and possibly sign Michael Frolik as a UFA. Nothing more has come from either of these rumors yet, except a few potential claims of what the team offered for Kessel.

In the end, no move was made and that ?s probably for the best as we have seen some new names enter the market in the last 48 hours. Monday, the Buffalo Sabres announced the buyout of Cody Hodgson ?s deal, while Tuesday the Carolina Hurricanes announced the same for Alexander Semin. Add these names to others like Frolik and LA ?s Justin Williams and the pool just got more fun.

While Williams would be the sexy pick, as the man does have his name on the Stanley Cup three times, it probably won ?t work for the Penguins. He ?s going to command far too much for the bargain basement shopping the team needs to be doing and has already been actively participating in. Matt Belesky, who made it to the Western Conference Finals with the Anaheim Ducks this spring, is another sexy pick but again, he ?s just going to cost too much.

Guys like Hodgson and Semin, much like Ehrhoff last season, will be looking for a deal in the right situation, as they will already be paid by their previous teams to not play for them. Signing one of these guys to a low-risk, low-cost one year deal would be an incredible chance for the Penguins.

Hodgson is still young at 25 and has already played parts of six years in the NHL. While he hasn ?t been what the Sabres or Canucks wanted him to be as the 10th overall pick, sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery to really get something going. Putting him on a team where he won ?t be part of a tank job will help his confidence immensely and starting him as a lower line center or offering him a chance at a higher line wing gives him flexibility. It would be ideal for both parties for him to sign a simple one-year deal for a low hit. That way he can play on a contender, try to win a Stanley Cup and then sign long-term with the Penguins or use that year to showcase his talent and hit the market with a feather in his cap instead of with the pox of a buyout to his name.

Semin is a very interesting case indeed. No one is more polarizing in the hockey community than Semin. The former winger for Alex Ovechkin has some of the best advanced metrics, but still carries around the ?he ?s a lazy Russian ? label despite having a 40 goal, two 30-goal and two 25-goal seasons to his name. No, Semin was not the issue on the Hurricanes last year. The Hurricanes were the issue on the Hurricanes. Moving Semin along is a great thing for him. While he is 31 and this is a team that should prize youth above all else, a simple one year low-cost deal would be okay. Sign him for a year, place him on Malkin ?s right wing, watch the NHL implode. This is the dream winger for a guy like Malkin and playing with another top-notch Russian center will help Semin ?s confidence and highlight all his best skills.

The key to these kinds of deals are low-cost, short-term. Rutherford made these kinds of deals his hallmark in his first season at the helm of the Penguins and should look to do so again this season. Adding a player or two like Semin or Hodgson could make all the difference next spring for the Penguins’ Cup Dreams.

About Leah Blasko (55 Articles)
Leah is a hockey and city life contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. She is a 2013 graduate from the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State University.
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