Jason Zucker had a strong showing for the Penguins this past season, notching 27 goals and 21 assists while, perhaps most importantly, staying healthy after a pair of injury-plagued years. Despite that, Matt Vensel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests that the prudent move for Pittsburgh would be to not bring the pending unrestricted free agent back for next season. The 31-year-old is likely to be seeking a contract similar to the $5MM AAV he has played on the last five years and with the team needing to eventually transition toward becoming a younger and quicker team, locking up another player well into their thirties won’t exactly accomplish that objective. Not bringing Zucker back would also give Kyle Dubas more flexibility to work with this summer, albeit with an extra opening of significance on his roster.
Elsewhere in the East:
- It appears that the Red Wings won’t bring back any of their pending unrestricted free agents, suggests Bob Duff of Detroit Hockey Now. Duff adds that Detroit is believed to have made a one-year offer to center Pius Suter who declined in the hopes of securing a multi-year commitment while winger Alex Chiasson has passed on a two-way offer, hoping to land a one-way deal on the open market this summer. Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic and winger Adam Erne are among the other players set to hit the open market in a couple of weeks.
- It’s extremely unlikely that the Maple Leafs bring back forward Alexander Kerfoot or defenseman Justin Holl, reports Postmedia’s Lance Hornby. Kerfoot has been a capable secondary producer over his four seasons in Toronto but cap space will be at a premium and they wouldn’t be able to offer him the $3.5MM he made on his set-to-expire contract. As for Holl, he has shown himself to be a serviceable role player on the back end but it appears that Toronto is trying to re-sign Luke Schenn to fill that spot, pushing the 31-year-out out of a place in the lineup. Both players will hit the open market two Saturdays from today.