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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

NHL Free Agency Begins, with Six Penguins Leaving Pittsburgh

With NHL free agency starting Tuesday, fans of all teams were eager to see which star players their favorite teams would pick up. The big names were signed early on, like Ryan Miller with Vancouver, Paul Stastny with St. Louis, and Thomas Vanek with Minnesota, plus plenty more. Pittsburgh made some headlines Tuesday, too, though not for who came in, but for who exited.

After trading James Neal last Friday, six more Penguins found new homes. Here's a quick look at who will no longer be wearing the black and gold.

James Neal - Traded to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling

Brooks Orpik - Signed by the Washington Capitals for 5 years/$27.5 mil.

Matt Niskanen - Signed by the Washington Capitals for 7 years/$40.25 mil.

Jussi Jokinen - Signed by the Florida Panthers for 4 years/$16 mil.

Joe Vitale - Signed by the Arizona Coyotes for 3 years/$3.51 mil.

Tanner Glass - Signed by the New York Rangers for 3 years/$4.35 mil.

Deryk Engelland - Signed by the Calgary Flames for 3 years/$8.7 mil.

There are definitely some players who will be missed, but while the defensive corps may appear to be depleted, the Penguins did sign Christian Ehrhoff, and they also have plenty of blue-liners waiting for their chance at the big time. The Penguins also needed to dump some salary, which they did, and make themselves into a tougher team, which they did with the Blake Comeau signing. Hornqvist and Spaling will help replenish their forwards, but with Neal and Jokinen gone, they still have a hole in their top six to fill on a line with Malkin and (presumably) Hornqvist.

Time will tell if this housecleaning will be a success or be a bust, but one thing is for sure: the old way wasn't working. Right now, any change is, at the very least, a step in the right direction.

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