We will miss you! Veteran forward Bill Guerin announced today that Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero has informed him that he will not be re-signed to a Penguins’ contract for the coming season. Guerin, who was acquired from the Islanders at the trade deadline in 2009, played a vital role on Sidney Crosby’s wing as the Penguins marched to a Stanley Cup victory in 2009. He brought veteran leadership to the team at a time that it was sorely needed, and lightened the mood for the team’s younger stars in the wake of a rough slump that ended with the firing of head coach Michel Therrien. After joining the team, Guerin posted 5-goals in the remaining 17 regular season games before putting up a career post-season high 15-points (7G, 8A) in 24 games, culminating in his second Stanley Cup Championship. Last season, Guerin added another 45-points (21G, 24A) in 71 games for the Penguins, playing on Crosby’s right wing.
Not unlike many veterans across the league, Guerin’s contractual prospects fell victim to the combined affects of affordability and age in an era when teams are looking for younger, cheaper players to stay in alignment with salary cap restrictions. This is especially true for the Penguins who carry the salary burden of two super-star forwards and a premier goaltender. Guerin’s prospects for returning to the Penguins’ lineup faded with the signing of Paul Martin and Michalek Zbynek on defense over the summer, a move that Ray Shero needed to make to shore up the defensive corps. It was also a move that restricted the dollars available for acquiring talent on wing. Instead, the Penguins are rumored to be looking at moving Jordan Staal up into the top six and back-filling the 3rd line with other talent. This rumor was bolstered by the signing of Arron Asham this past week, a gritty bottom six grinder. The Penguins will also look to augment their roster with 1-2 players from their AHL affiliate. With $1.7M left under the salary cap, it is also not unreasonable to believe that the Penguins may still have another acquisition planned in the near future. The only certainty is that the Penguins will definitely have a different look surrounding their core players this coming season.
It is unclear if Bill Guerin will get his wish to lace his skates again for an NHL team this coming season, but it is very clear in my mind that he would be an excellent addition to any team with the cap space that needs a quality veteran presence. Good luck and Godspeed Billy! Thanks for the memories, we will miss what you brough to our team.