The summer months are always tough for hockey fans. But don't worry, there's plenty going on over the next few months to keep everyone's appetite for hockey satiated until the 2012-13 season begins. Here's a breakdown of what Penguins fans can look forward to during the offseason – click on a specific link for a detailed explanation.
IIHF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: MAY 4-20
NHL COMBINE: MAY 28 – JUNE 2
NHL AWARDS: JUNE 20
NHL DRAFT: JUNE 22 – 23
FREE AGENCY PERIOD BEGINS: JULY 1
PENGUINS DEVELOPMENT CAMP: JULY; TBA
ROOKIE CAMP AND TOURNAMENT: SEPTEMBER; TBA
TRAINING CAMP: SEPTEMBER; TBA
IIHF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – MAY 4-20
The World Championship is an international ice hockey tournament that will take place between May 4-20 in Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden. This tournament, which consists of 16 teams, will determine the seeding for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, including the qualification process.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin will represent his native Russia at the World Championship. We’ll have all the Penguin-related tournament content at pittsburghpenguins.com.
NHL COMBINE – MAY 28 – JUNE 2
The 105 best draft-eligible players will be invited to this year’s NHL Combine in Toronto, which is one last opportunity for the prospects to improve their draft stock.
The event gives all 30 NHL clubs a chance to meet and evaluate the prospects less than a month before the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, set for June 22-23 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
There are three main components to the combine – interviews with personnel from each of the league’s 30 teams, rigorous off-ice physical testing (there is no on-ice activity) and medical examinations by independent doctors. The players are watched and graded by scouts, general managers and strength and conditioning coaches throughout the process.
The fitness tests measure their strength, stamina and explosiveness, and include the famously grueling Wingate Cycle Ergometer, which measures a player’s power output during a 30-second burst, and the VO2 Max test, which measures a player’s endurance.
NHL AWARDS – JUNE 20
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin will be one busy young man at this year’s NHL Awards, scheduled for June 20 at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The event will be broadcast nationally in the United States on NBC Sports Network.
Malkin is one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy as league MVP along with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos and New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
This is the third time in the last five seasons that Malkin is up for this award. Should Malkin win, he would become the fourth player in franchise history to do so, joining Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr.
Malkin will also be awarded the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring champion, as he tallied 50 goals for the first time in his career and added 59 assists for a league-best 109 points.
Malkin also has a chance to be named the winner of the EA Sports NHL 13 Cover Vote campaign. The next athlete to be on the cover of the world’s No. 1 hockey video game franchise will be announced in a dramatic unveiling at the NHL Awards.
The other awards that will be given out in Las Vegas are: the Ted Lindsay Award (outstanding player voted by peers); Vezina Trophy (best goalie); Norris Trophy (best defenseman); Calder Trophy (top rookie); Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and high standard of play); Selke Trophy (best defensive forward); the Masterson Trophy (perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey); and the Jack Adams Award (coach of the year).
NHL DRAFT – JUNE 22-23
The Penguins and the city of Pittsburgh will be hosting the 2012 NHL Draft this summer, set for June 22 and 23 at CONSOL Energy Center. There will be a total of seven rounds and 211 overall selections.
The draft is making its return to Western Pennsylvania after a 15-year hiatus, as it was last held in Pittsburgh back in 1997. It will also be the first NHL event at CONSOL Energy Center, the luxurious, state-of-the-art building that opened two summers ago.
Personnel from all 30 clubs will be in attendance to select the sport’s best young prospects from all over the world, while thousands of people – including the players, their families, agents and advisors, international hockey media and fans of the sport – will also be in town.
More details pertaining to the Draft and the events surrounding it will be available in the coming weeks.
Pittsburgh built 50 percent – 13 of 26 players – of its 2011-12 finalized roster through the draft. The Penguins have a strong nucleus of players selected high in previous drafts, with seven first-round picks on their current roster – Sidney Crosby, Simon Despres, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik and Jordan Staal.
In the first round of the draft, the order of selection is as follows:
a) The first 14 selections, as determined by a Draft Drawing – where the 14 teams that did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs (or clubs that acquired those teams’ first-round draft picks) participate to determine their order.
b) Clubs eliminated in the first two rounds of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, regular-season division winners excluded (in inverse order of points).
c) Regular-season division-winning clubs eliminated in the first two rounds of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs (in inverse order of points).
d) Clubs eliminated in the 2012 Conference Finals (in inverse order of points).
e) Stanley Cup finalist.
f) Stanley Cup champion.
FREE AGENCY PERIOD BEGINS – JULY 1
Once 12:00 p.m. ET hits on July 1, an unrestricted free agent is free to negotiate and sign a contract with any team.
Steve Sullivan, Arron Asham, Brent Johnson, Richard Park, Steve MacIntyre, Jason Williams, Colin McDonald, Scott Munroe and Ryan Craig are the players currently within the Penguins organization that are set to become unrestricted free agents if they do not re-sign with the team by that date.
As of 2008, any player whose contract has expired can declare himself an unrestricted free agent if he is at least 27 years old and has accrued four seasons as an NHL player, or has accrued at least seven years of service as an NHL player.
Matt Niskanen, Eric Tangradi, Brian Strait, Carl Sneep, Robert Bortuzzo, Alex Grant, Cal O’Reilly, Alexandre Picard, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Carl Sneep and Boris Valabik are the organization’s restricted free agents since they are no longer considered entry-level, but do not qualify as an unrestricted free agent.
The Penguins must extend a qualifying offer to any of these players in order to retain their negotiating rights. If a qualifying offer is made and the player rejects it, he or the team can file for salary arbitration to settle any contract disputes.
A team can take a player to arbitration once in his career and cannot ask for a salary reduction greater than 15 percent.
DEADLINE FOR PLAYER-ELECTED SALARY ARBITRATION NOTIFICATION – JULY 5
DEADLINE FOR CLUB-ELECTED SALARY ARBITRATION NOTIFICATION – JULY 6
SALARY ARBITRATION HEARINGS HELD – JULY 20-AUGUST 4
DEADLINE FOR SALARY ARBITRATION HEARINGS TO BE RENDERED – AUGUST 6
PENGUINS DEVELOPMENT CAMP – JULY; TBA
Penguins prospects will have the opportunity to spend a week in Pittsburgh learning what it means to represent the organization during the 2012 development camp.
The prospects will take part in on-ice practice and scrimmage sessions as well as workouts, meetings and seminars. Medical and fitness testing will take place at the UPMC Sports Medicine Complex on the South Side.
The camp is a chance for the franchise's top prospects and recent draft picks to learn all of the on- and off-ice aspects that come with being a professional hockey player in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization in a more relaxed atmosphere than, for example, training camp.
It is also a chance for the Penguins staff to see the organization’s prospects all together and to teach them the habits and mindset they want their players to have.
The camp took place at CONSOL Energy Center for the first time last summer. Last year’s instructors were Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach John Hynes, WBS assistant coach Alain Nasreddine, Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald, Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche, Penguins player development coach Bill Guerin, Penguins goalie development coach Mike Bales, Penguins strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar and WBS strength and conditioning coach Joe Lorincz.
ROOKIE CAMP AND TOURNAMENT – SEPTEMBER; TBA
The Penguins will conduct a rookie camp and tournament with the location, dates and other participating teams to be determined.
In addition to practices and meetings, some of the Penguins’ brightest prospects will partake in exhibition games against the best prospects from other National Hockey League teams.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach John Hynes will direct the camp with the help of assistant coach Alain Nasreddine. Hynes and Nasreddine will continue to implement the same culture the players learned at development camp in July to help prepare them for training camp around the corner.
Forward Eric Tangradi, defenseman Simon Despres and 2011 first-round draft pick Joseph Morrow were among the Penguins’ 26 participants last season.
TRAINING CAMP – SEPTEMBER; TBA
The Penguins will get back to business after a long and fruitful summer when they converge on Pittsburgh in September to report to training camp. The attendees will be locked in a fierce competition for a spot on Pittsburgh’s roster, as the Penguins will have their 2012-13 lineup set soon after the two-and-a-half week process concludes.
In addition to practices – some of which will be open to the public – the Penguins will play a number of preseason games and the schedule for those will be announced at a later date.