The Pittsburgh Penguins and GM Ray Shero have done what many thought impossible: upgrade on defense despite losing Sergei Gonchar.
We don’t have the financial terms just yet, but ESPN and multiple sources have reported that the Pittsburgh Penguins have signed Paul Martin, right after signing Zbynek Michalek.
[Update:] Martin signed a five-year, $25 million contract, which is right around what we expected after Gonchar signed with Ottawa.
So now the Penguins have signed two of the top four defensemen on the open market today, and they have definitely upgraded on the blueline now.
It doesn’t even really depend on exactly what the financials for Martin are, as at his age his of much better long-term value than Gonchar. The Penguins have improved on defense and will once again be a dangerous team next season. The Penguins will be a bit tight against the cap again, but it looks like they have their team for season just about ready to go.
We are now just about two and half hours into free agency and the two biggest names on the goaltender market are still available.
Martin Biron, Antero Nittymaki, Alex Auld and now Dan Ellis have all signed with four of the teams that seriously needed goaltenders. That leaves Evgeni Nabokov and Marty Turco on the outside looking in, and the teams still in need of starting goaltenders has drastically diminished in numbers.
Philadelphia is still a possibility for either of the two, although with all of the signings Philadelphia has made today they don’t have much room for a big goaltender without making another trade. Besides, I’m hearing Chris Mason is a better possibility than Turco or Nabokov in Philadelphia.
What seems to be the case, especially considering the financials of the deals handed to goaltenders so far, is the Nabokov and Turco are likely asking for way too much money. Look for either to sign a one-year contract if they can’t get the deal they want, and there’s still the Washington Capitals out there.
Right now, however, it seems that Turco and Nabokov will have to settle for a backup goaltender job, and there’s always the chance that Nabokov heads on over to the KHL.
Could Turco deal with being a backup goaltender?
We don’t have the financials just yet, but it looks as though the Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goaltender Dan Ellis.
Ellis had hoped to sign with the Montreal Canadiens after having his rights traded, but with Alex Auld signing with the Habs, Ellis had to turn elsewhere.
He’ll be a great fit with Tampa Bay, as Steve Yzerman continues to rebuild his team is very short fashion. Ellis is a starting-caliber goaltender with a great work ethic and an even better attitude in the locker room.