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LOS ANGELES -- The Pittsburgh Penguins moved a small step closer to parting ways with defenseman Sergei Gonchar.The Pens on Friday acquired the rights to defenseman Dan Hamhuis from the Philadelphia Flyers for a third-round draft pick in the 2011 draft.
Hamhuis can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. His rights had previously been acquired by Philadelphia from Nashville for defenseman Ryan Parent on June 19. The Flyers, however, could not come to terms with Hamhuis, prompting the trade late in the first round of Friday's draft.
"There's risk obviously, but I've known Dan a long time," Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero said.
Shero was working in the Nashville front office when the team drafted Hamhuis with the 12th overall pick in the 2001 draft.
Shero insisted acquiring Hamhuis' rights didn't mean the Penguins were done trying to re-sign Gonchar, who can also become an unrestricted free agent. But a meeting between Shero and Gonchar's agent, J.P. Barry, earlier in the day did not produce any headway. The GM said they have run scenarios where Gonchar stays in Pittsburgh and they still add another top defenseman.
But given how much money Hamhuis is expected to want as one of the top free-agent defensemen potentially available on July 1, it seems unlikely the Penguins could accommodate both Gonchar and Hamhuis.
"First things first, just talking to Dan, seeing what his interest level is," Shero said. "I'll give him a call tonight and see if I can reach him and try and sell him on the merits of playing in Pittsburgh."
Although Hamhuis would not replace Gonchar on the Penguins' power play, Shero said he knows Hamhuis has more offensive upside than he's shown in Nashville, where his power-play time has been limited by the emergence of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter as top offensive defensemen.
"But I know him well enough that I know he can do that and play a higher role," Shero said.
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.