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Pens deal pick to Flyers for Hamhuis

by Shawn P. Roarke
LOS ANGELES –  The last transaction during Friday's first round of the 2010 Entry Draft might have been the most interesting.

Just before things broke Friday evening at the Staples Center, Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren announced that he had traded Dan Hamhuis to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a divisional rival, in exchange for a third-round pick in next year's draft.

Hamhuis, who Philadelphia obtained last week in a deal with Nashville that sent Ryan Parent to the Predators, will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Holmgren made the trade with Nashville believing he could sign Hamhuis before he hit free agency.

But when talks between the player and organization broke down this week, Holmgren looked to recoup some of his investment.

That's when Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero, who has his own blue-line problems, stepped into the breach after his most recent talks with the representatives for defenseman Sergei Gonchar failed to bridge a gap in both terms and money. Gonchar is also set to become an unrestricted free agent.

While Shero said he can envision a scenario where both Hamhuis and Gonchar are on his blue line next season, that appears unlikely. Shero has not talked to Hamhuis yet, but he will certainly use the threat of adding a top-tier defenseman to his roster to force Gonchar's camp to come down in its contract demands.

"It all depends on the numbers now, with both Gonch and Hamhuis," Shero said. "First things first is just talking to Dan and seeing what his interest level is and going from there."

Hamhuis, 27, spent his first six NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators, who drafted him at No. 12 in the 2001 Entry Draft. Shero served as Nashville's assistant GM at the time.

Shero remains enamored with the player that captured Nashville's fancy almost a decade ago.

"Dan is a real solid two-way player, plays against top lines, provide you with a little bit of offense and play your second power play," Shero said. "I know he can play a higher role. He is a great kid with great character. He's mobile, makes a good first pass and will certainly strengthen our defense if we can sign him."

Shero has not spoken to Hamhuis yet, so signing him is not a guarantee. But Shero says he likes the idea that he has a chance and it only cost him a third-round pick in next year's draft.

"We'll see how this shakes out," Shero said. "They are both unrestricted free agents on July 1, so we certainly have our work cut out. We think Pittsburgh is a great place to play, which Sergei knows and hopefully Dan will find out."

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