Of the multiple people who are charged with trying to retool the Penguins, associate general manager Jason Botterill may have the most difficult task.
Responsible with managing the team's salary cap, Botterill must find a way to fill out a roster which only has 14 players signed at the NHL level while working with only $14,630,833 of salary cap space (according to CapGeek.com)
At the conclusion of the NHL draft today, Botterill held court with the media and addressed the team's salary cap, how they'll proceed with free agency and the team's depth on the blue line:
On the team's salary cap space:
"I think the good situation that we’re in right now is that it’s not that have to move players. We want to bring young players into our organization especially on defense here. It’s going to be a situation where we have to make some decisions on free agency. You want to go after your top players but there’s also going to be cap restraints there. But it’s not as if we have to move players out because of our salary cap situation now."
Can you be aggressive in free agency with limited cap space?
"I think you can always be aggressive [with] different roles. Are you going to be going for top-end forwards and defenseman? No. But if you’re being aggressive going for specific needs, I think that’s what we’ll be doing for sure on July 1."
With some veteran defenseman such as Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen potentially leaving as free agents, how likely is it to see some of the younger defensive prospects get a chance to make the NHL roster?
"That’s always a possibility for sure. We also extremely excited. We’ve talked about these young defenseman in our system for a while here now. It’s time for Brian Dumoulin, Scott Harrington to get an opportunity here. Simon Despres. We saw it last year with Olli Maatta getting an opportunity. I think a lot of these young guys are ready for an opportunity too."
Will Despres get a legitimate look at the NHL level next season?
"Without a doubt. You saw how he played in the playoffs down in [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton]. It was a great step in the right direction for him. It’s a situation where he went down with a better attitude. He was very physical. I think he enjoyed playing. It’s sometimes a difficult situation for some of our younger defenseman in the last couple of years just because of the depth we had. Moving forward here, I think they’re going to get a great opportunity to show how they can produce at the [NHL] level."
What do the additions of Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling do with regards to the team's overall depth?
"You’re adding depth. You’re changing things around a little bit. Hornqvist is a player our pro scouts have really targeted over the last couple of years and really wanted to go after. Just the way he plays. Spaling is a guy that just adds depth. We always talked about rearranging out bottom six [forwards]. He certainly does that. We were really excited about the trade yesterday."
Hornqvist and Spaling can each play multiple forward position. How much does that help with filling out a roster?
"I think it just any coach the flexibility to have player. … Just having the flexibility of having a guy to play wing. Having a guy play center. Play both sides, especially in a season when you’re going to face different types of injuries, it’s nice to have that flexibility."