Penguins Payroll Analysis

By Stephen Payne

Here is an overview of what Craig Patrick has to work with for the Penguins’
payroll this season:

Listed below are the players from last year’s team that are unrestricted free
agents that we will most likely not sign (or have already been signed by
another team):

Name/Age/Position/Last Year’s Salary/New Team (If Signed)/New Salary for This

Josef Beranek
, 31, Forward, $770,000, None
Marc Bergevin, 35, Defense, $875,000, None
Bob Boughner, 30, Defense, $950,000, Calgary Flames, 3 years, $6.6 million
Garth Snow, 31, Goaltender, $600,000, New York Islanders, 2 years, $2.3 million

Listed below are the players that have been traded:

Name/Age/Position/Last Year’s Salary/Salary This Year/ New Team

Jaromir Jagr
, 29, Forward, $9,482,708, $10 million, Washington Capitals
Frantisek Kucera, 33, Defense, $1.2 million, $1.2 million, Washington Capitals

Listed below are the restricted free agents that the Penguins have allowed to
sign with other teams:

Name/Age/Position/Last Year’s Salary

Rene Corbet, 28, Forward, $825,000
Steve McKenna, 27, Forward, $450,000

Listed below are Penguin players already with salaries for this year:

Name/Age/Position/This Year’s Salary

Robert Dome
, 22, Forward, $850,000
Andrew Ference, 22, Defense, $400,000
Hans Jonsson, 27, Defense, $800,000
Milan Kraft, 21, Forward, $975,000
Janne Laukkanen, 31, Defense, $1.3 million
Krzysztof Oliwa, 28, Forward, $900,000
Kevin Stevens, 36, Forward, $800,000
Mike Wilson, 26, Defense, $825,000

The Sum:

Listed below are the Penguin players that are restricted free agents:

Name/Age/Position/Last Year’s Salary/Projected Salary For This Year

Jean-Sebastien Aubin
, 24, Goaltender, $700,000, $700,000

As of now, Aubin is not the starting goaltender. Last year, he said that
he was the starter and that he wanted starter money. Even after that, he got
the money of a back-up, and this year should be no different. After losing
his starting job to Hedberg, he has no reason to complain about getting the
salary of a back-up goaltender.

Johan Hedberg, 28, Goaltender, $375,000, $800,000

Johan Hedberg has proved that he can play in the NHL. After spending
many years in Sweden and in the minors, he has finally struck gold. He
played very well in the playoffs and was arguably, the Penguins’ MVP of the
playoffs. He deserves a heavy salary, but he has still only played 9 regular
season games in the NHL, and his spectacular play could have just been a
fluke. Right now, Hedberg is just happy to be in the league this season, and
I do not think that he will put up a fight for his salary this coming year.
The Penguins’ qualifying offer was $583,000, but they will probably raise it
a bit.

Jan Hrdina, 25, Forward, $700,000, $1 million

When Hrdina first signed his contract a few years ago, he was not the
player he is now. Over the years, he has steadily become an effective,
two-way, second-line center. He is still under-rated by many, and at times,
he tries to force the pass. His agent knows at this point that he is not a
star. He is solid, but not a star.

Darius Kasparaitis, 28, Defense, $1.6 million, $3 million

This hard-hitting Lithuanian had a wonderful season. He stepped up and
became the Penguins’ #1 defensemen despite the trade rumors he was involved
in. He deserves the bucks, and right now, it would be ridiculous to trade
him. The Penguins’ defensive system would become very thin without him. The
Penguins hope that Kasparaitis’ agent will not try to pull him out of
Pittsburgh this year.

Alexei Kovalev, 28, Forward, $2.3 million, $5.5 million

The swift-skating Russian had an amazing break-through season. He
improved his point totals approximately 30 points this season, finishing in
the top three in scoring in the NHL. He deserves superstar money, but he
will be generous to the Penguins’ organization that has given him so much.
The organization and his agent have also noticed that he disappeared in the
playoffs when they needed him, and for those two reasons, I think he will
settle for $5.5 million. I am sure that he will consider himself lucky with
that deal. Besides, his salary is almost doubled for next season.

Dan LaCouture, 24, Forward, $522,500, $550,000

A late season acquisition, LaCouture showed some improvement in the
playoffs and was used as a grinding fourth liner. Although, he is still at
about the same level that he was when he signed his contract with the
Edmonton Oilers.

Robert Lang, 30, Forward, $1.025 million, $2.9 million

Lang was another player who had a break-through season on the
Kovalev-Straka line. Although, he was the weakest player on the line. He
finished in the top 20 in scoring in the NHL last season, mostly due to
Kovalev’s and Straka’s help. He is a very skilled player, but his agent
knows that he is not as skilled as Kovalev or Straka. Nevertheless, he has
still improved drastically since signing his last contract.

Mario Lemieux, 35, Forward, $1.41 million, $4 million

Lemieux is sort of like a restricted free agent. He has to make a deal
with himself about how much money he deserves each season. He will not work
for the league average this year. He has worked too hard for the league
average, but he does not want to put the Penguins too far into debt. He is
really worth at least $10 million, but he will settle for a good $4 million.

Ian Moran, 28, Defense, $550,000, $600,000

Moran has improved over the years. He is sort of a late bloomer; even
though, he had a tendency to breakdown in his own end this season. Patrick
will probably still think he is worth a good $600,000.

Aleksey Morozov, 24, Forward, $660,000, $800,000

After being considered a dud for the 1999-2000 season and much of last
season, Morozov showed a lot of spark towards the end of the season and
throughout the playoffs. He is learning to play bigger and rougher. He is
just one of the many Penguin players who deserves a raise based on last
year’s playoffs alone.

Wayne Primeau, 25, Forward, $575,000, $650,000

Primeau was a late acquisition from the Tampa Bay Lightning. After being
traded for fan favorite, Matthew Barnaby, a lot was expected from him. He
proved to be a different type of player than Barnaby, a solid, banging,
third-line center. He scored some important goals and plays rough when he
has to. Even though he has not really improved, with the money nowadays, he
deserves a raise.

Martin Straka, 28, Forward, $2.2 million, $5.5 million

Although not as skilled as linemate Kovalev, Straka has a better work
ethic and is more consistent. He shows up every night and scores important
goals (he was the only player in Penguins’ history to score two overtime
goals in one playoff). He always showed these characteristics, but it did
not pay off as much as it did this year. He finished 6th in the league in
points and continued playing well throughout the playoffs. His consistency
and amazing work ethic alone need a huge raise.

The sum: $26 million

Then, 26 million + $6,850,000 = $32,850,000

These figures include twenty players. The Penguins are allowed to have
twenty-three men on their roster. The other three players will be rookies.
The maximum salary for a rookie is $1.025 million, but on average, rookies
make approximately between $500,000 and $700,000. If we have three rookies
at $600,000 each, they will cost $1.8 million together.

Then, $32,850,000 + $1.8 million = $34,650,000

Lemieux and his associates reported that they were willing to spend $34
million on players’ salaries this season. Then, the Penguins received $4.9
million in the Jagr deal.

Then, $34 million + $4.9 million = $38.9 million

And… $38.9 million – 34,650,000 = $4,250,000

That leaves $4,250,000 left over. How will Patrick use it? He could use it
in many ways. He could put it into making a new arena, or he could use it to
sign a free agent(s). Another option would be to trade some players to free
up some more money for a free agent(s).