On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins surprised veteran forward Bill Guerin when they told him they would not be bringing him back for the 2010-11 season.
Last year, Guerin scored 45 points (21 G, 24 A) while averaging over 17 minutes per game, and adderd nine points in 11 postseason games for the Pens. He made $2M, and is 38 years old.
So where could he land? There are a number of teams that could use an inexpensive forward that’s still productive. One team that doesn’t need him is the Blackhawks, but should they consider him?
Looking at the Hawks roster on CapGeek, they have 21 players on the NHL level with a handful of prospects expected to make an impact. With 21 on the roster, the Hawks have roughly $1.5M in available cap space.
Consider the players the Hawks traded away or let walk as free agents. None of them, even Kris Versteeg, scored 45 points last year. And expecting Jack Skille or Bryan Bickell to add 21 goals to the mix this year might be an aggressive hope.
In the same thinking as the move to add Fernando Pisani, the Hawks could use a veteran forward with playoff experience to add depth to a talented, young roster. In many ways, Pisani is viewed as “the new John Madden” on next year’s roster, adding a penalty killing body to the roster with limited other duties/expectations.
Guerin, on the other hand, could be a guy that might take $1M for next year and, more importantly, could give GM Stan Bowman the flexibility to move a player like Tomas Kopecky or even Skille because of the production Guerin could bring to the table. If he took a roster spot away from a younger player like Jake Dowell, the net impact of the deal against the cap could be even less.
There will certainly be teams out there that can offer Guerin more money and a chance to compete like the Avalanche, but if Guerin sees the opportunity in Chicago the same way Marty Turco did (defending champions, young roster, chance to repeat), the Hawks could be a great destination for him.
Is it likely? Doubtful. But Guerin’s an affordable veteran that could give the Hawks the right skills at the right time for a one-year deal to make sense for both parties.