Marc Antoine Godin of La Presse Tweeted that the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to embrace a youth movement on defense, and won’t bring back free agents Paul Martin or Christian Ehrhoff.
Penguins have decided to go for a full youth movement on defense, won't bring back Martin and Ehrhoff. They'd rather invest on wingers.
— Marc Antoine Godin (@MAGodin) June 11, 2015
Erhoff was one of the most coveted defensemen during last year’s free agent frenzy and surprisingly settled on a one-year $4 million deal. It was strange considering he looked like a lock for a long-term deal, but he must have thought the chance to win a Stanley Cup on a one-year flier playing alongside elite talent like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Martin signed a five-year $25 million deal back in 2010, and had been consistently solid for the club. He raised his game in the playoffs averaging .55 points per game. He should be in line for one more solid contract as he’s a valuable defenseman who can play both sides of the ice.
Both Erhoff and Martin averaged more than 20 minutes per game last season.
The Penguins have a solid group of defensemen ready to step in. When healthy, the team has former Norris nominee Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, Brian Dumoulin, Scott Harrington, Ian Cole and Ben Lovejoy. While that’s not the best defense group in the NHL, it’s very solid. Pittsburgh also has Rob Scuderi earning $3.75 million for the next two seasons and it’s likely they’ll move him or potentially buy him out.
It’s easy to poke fun at the Penguins for trading Simon Depres to Anaheim – who would have been another youngster to develop with the group – for Ben Lovejoy, but the Pens’ defense isn’t crippled by the move.
It will be interesting to see who the Penguins target at right wing. The best right winger available may be Phil Kessel, who Toronto may trade, but it’s doubtful the Penguins can manage his huge salary considering how much cap they have devoted to their core. The best free agent right winger’s include Martin St. Louis, Justin Williams and Mikkel Boedker. There are many options, so it will be interesting to see who the club invests in.