By Douglas Smith @DFresh39 on April 29, 2014
The Pittsburgh Penguins' front office will have a lot of decisions to make once their playoff run ends. Of the 19 roster forwards, only seven are signed. They also have only five NHL defensemen under contract. The biggest question may be whether to take a dedicated teammate or a new star on the blue line. Without a doubt, general manager Ray Shero has his work cut out for him.
Deryk Engelland played on a wing and in defense during the year. He doesn't see the ice in important games, which included the first round of the playoffs. He will be an unrestricted free agent next year. The Penguins are not paying him a lot, but he can be replaced easily.
Joe Vitale is a fan favorite in many circles and plays with grit. He has also worked on winning faceoffs. He is a strict energy guy, which seems to be a position that the Penguins never have trouble filling. Adam Payerl or pending free agent Zach Sill are potential replacements.
When the Penguins acquired Stempniak it was never intended to be a long-term deal. Stempniak has moved around on the Pens' lines, but he has found success in his short time with Pittsburgh. He is an unrestricted free agent as well. Brandon Sutter will be the No. 1 priority in the core of forwards for the Pens.
Goc is in the same category as Stempniak. Adding Goc was basically a move for depth for Pittsburgh, and he has dealt with an injury since moving to the Pens. Goc has made his living off short-term deals and should be looking for another one when the season ends.
Some probably expected Matt Niskanen to be here, but his level of play all year round will signal the end of Brooks Orpik with Pittsburgh. Orpik played six games for the Pens in the 2002-03 season and has become a fan favorite. However, his age combined with the physical game he plays creates concern over how long he can last. Orpik did miss time in the first round of the playoffs with an undisclosed injury.
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