Pittsburgh Penguins Roundup: 2017 Draft, Free Agency, And Schedule

By Larry Snyder

With the 55th edition of the National Hockey League Entry Draft set for Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24, the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to barrel into the off-season at full speed. The claiming of new young talent for the bench is at the United Center, home of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Barring any trades, all of the Black and Gold’s picks they still own, come at the end of the round. They are 31st in the first, 93rd in the third, 155th in the fifth, 186th in the sixth, and 217th in the seventh.

Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun in his mock draft has Pittsburgh opting for Waterloo Black Hawks center Shane Bowers from the United States Hockey League with their first selection while Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post forecasts Spokane Chiefs center Jaret Anderson-Dolan from the Western Hockey League.

After the draft, free agency skates to center ice at noon on Saturday, July 1 with another opportunity for teams to improve their rosters. Pens general manager Jim Rutherford spoke with Josh Yohe of dkpittsburghsports.com (subscription service) about possibly adding to the blue line crew, “We’ll see how things shake out but obviously we need to take a look. Am I possibly interested in trading for a defenseman or signing the right guy in July? Yes.”

Rutherford and the Penguins disclosed Thursday, June 22 the re-signing of defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a two-year agreement, worth an average value of $650,000. They also approved a two-year entry-level deal with prospect forward Frederik Tiffels from Western Michigan University. He came to Pittsburgh in the sixth round of the 2015 NHL Draft.

From the staff at ESPN.com, the dates of Thursday, July 20 to Friday, August 4, is the time for salary arbitration hearings in the NHL. The deadline for salary arbitration settlements is Sunday, August 6.

While the players take time off to enjoy their day with Lord Stanley’s Cup, the NHL announced Thursday, June 22 the 2017-2018 regular season schedule. Fans of the Penguins can look forward to 11 Saturday home contests while the Boys of Winter must deal with 19 back-to-back match-ups from October to April. Here is a look at some of the engaging, dates you might want to circle on your calendar.

Putting up another Stanley Cup Banner, opens the season Wednesday, Oct. 4 at the Paint Can. The meeting with the St. Louis Blues gets underway at 8:00 p.m.

The Boys from Music City, the Nashville Predators return to the City of Bridges Saturday, Oct. 7 at 7:00 p.m. Pittsburgh hits the Catfish Capital of the South Saturday, Nov. 11 at 8:00 p.m.

Marc-Andre Fleury, along with fellow former Penguins James Neal, Deryk Engelland, Chris Thorburn, David Perron, and the rest of the Vegas Golden Knights visit Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 7:00 p.m. The Black and Gold get their first look at the Sin City crew at T-Mobile Arena, Thursday, Dec. 14 at 10:00 p.m.

Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals welcome Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Company Wednesday, Oct. 11 to the Verizon Center. The opening faceoff is 7:30 p.m. between the long-time rivals. The Caps first appearance in the Steel City is not until Friday, Feb. 2 at 7:00 p.m.

Columbus helps the holidays arrive at the end of the year with a pair of contests in the Burgh. The Blue Jackets invade Thursday, Dec. 21 at 7:00 p.m. and again Wednesday, Dec. 27 at the same 7:00 p.m. start time.

Philadelphia pulls into 1001 Fifth Avenue Monday, Nov. 27 for a 7:00 p.m. meeting while the New York Rangers sharpen their skates in town Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7:00 p.m. The Islanders come over from New York Thursday, Dec. 7 at 7:00 p.m.

Masterton Memorial Trophy winner Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators host the Black and Gold at the Canadian Tire Centre, Thursday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. The Sens make the trip from Ontario to Pittsburgh Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7:00 p.m.

One set of dates to keep in mind is Friday, Feb. 9 to Sunday, Feb. 25 for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Commissioner Gary Bettman said back in April; the NHL would not suspend its schedule for players to participate in the tournament. Can or will the Penguins and other teams permit their athletes to go to the Winter Games? The league has not announced what they will do if any players attend the event.

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