August 26, 2010
His arrival from the New York Islanders at the trade deadline solidified a line with Sidney Crosby(notes) and Chris Kunitz(notes) that saw Guerin tally 7 goals and 8 assists in the Penguins' run to the Cup. He also was a vital, veteran addition to a locker room that was still adjusting to Dan Bylsma's arrival as coach roughly two weeks earlier.
Plus, he was an unmitigated goofball, and every championship team needs one or two of those.
But he's also a $2 million forward who turns 40 in November and appeared to lose a step last season, despite an impressive point total in the playoffs. As first reported by Andy Strickland, Guerin's done with the Penguins, and Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review has more:
Several times since the Penguins were eliminated in Round 2 of the playoffs Guerin stated his desire was to play a final NHL season with them. However, it was never clear if he was willing to accept a reduction on his $2 million salary.
The Penguins project $1.7 million in available space under the NHL's $59.4 million cap. Currently they are committed to 12 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies on NHL contracts.
What do the Penguins look like post-Guerin? Mike Colligan of The Hockey Writers sees Eric Tangradi(notes), the 6-4 power forward acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in the Ryan Whitney(notes) trade, filling the role by mid-season. But the other option could be on the open market: Former Colorado Avalanche winger Marek Svatos(notes), currently an unrestricted free agent. From The Hockey Writers:
A change in scenery was obviously needed and agent Richard Evans feels Pittsburgh may be a good landing spot for his client. "Marek would certainly be able to provide offence for a team like Pittsburgh," Evans told THW Tuesday. "Pittsburgh is a team that Marek would be very interested in joining...on paper it looks like a good fit - but ultimately that is up to Ray [Shero]."
Would Svatos work? Depends on whether he can remain healthy, having never played more than 70 games in an NHL season; and, more importantly, whether he can find chemistry with Sidney Crosby, which Alexei Ponikarovsky(notes) can tell you isn't guaranteed.
As for Guerin, it's down to three options for 2010-11: Attempt to hook up with a Cup contending team for a bargain-basement price tag; sign a slightly more lucrative deal with a bubble team that can use a veteran scoring presence at forward, with Ben Wright asking if the Atlanta Thrashers could be a fit; or retirement, which would mean yet another NHL 94 alumni derezzed.