Once Sergei Gonchar(notes) refused a final offer from the Pittsburgh Penguins and went to Ottawa, general manager Ray Shero quickly set his sights on both Paul Martin(notes) and Zbynek Michalek(notes) as replacements.
After negotiations with both, it was Michalek that ended up inking a five-year, $20 million deal with the Penguins, leaving them with a little over $7 million in cap space per CapGeek. As Seth Rorabaugh pointed out, Michalek's shot-blocking abilities is something that the Penguins expected out of Jay McKee(notes) a year ago, but the veteran defenseman ended up watching from the press box down the stretch.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi Tweets that despite the signing of Michalek, the Penguins aren't completely out of the Paul Martin Sweepstakes. With $5 million per year looking like the asking price for Martin, Shero can still swing that and leave enough room to add a winger and spend right at the cap, according to Rossi.
Pittsburgh deeply missed the defensive presence of Hal Gilland and Rob Scuderi(notes) last season and with offensive-minded blue liners Alex Goligoski(notes) and Kris Letang(notes) expected to step up in the absence of Gonchar, Shero's priority this offseason was to bolster his defense corps. With plenty of room under the cap remaining, it looks like there will be more to come.