Hal Gill....I don't know, his slowness is a major liability in today's NHL.
Here's the way I looked at it, Guido. Barring a trade, this team will be coming back with Whitney, Gonchar and Welch in their top three. I'm assuming they're going to re-sign Brooks Oprik based on his strong second half. As it stands right now, the only mobile physical presence this club has on the blueline comes courtesy of Orpik and Welch. Unless you can ship him out west, I'll bring Orpik back because I sure as hell don't want to be playing against him somewhere between four and eight times next year.
I believe Scuderi, Melichar and Cairns are all under contract for next season. My preference would be to see Melichar leave in lieu of someone like Mitchell, Salei, etc. But I also think Melichar could be a very effective 5-6 guy if you have to bring him back, as long as he's paired with someone responsible.
That leaves Cairns, Scuderi and probably some combination of Lannon, Schneider, and Bissonnette as players within the organization to fight it out for those 6th and 7th spots. Scuderi, Lannon and Schneider might very well be interchangeable at the NHL level as far as I'm concerned. Bissonnette has the pedigree to someday crack a top-four spot. I don't see Lannon, Schneider or Scuderi ever becoming anything more than a 5-6 at this level.
That leaves Cairns to play the "big body" role in front, which is why I would bring Gill in. Gill might cost more money, but I think he's infinitely more talented than Cairns. And for all of his lack of speed, he's only been a -1 in 72 games on that Bruins squad that is not much better and probably more dysfunctional than this Pens team has been. I don't want to overrate +/- here too much, but I also love the fact that in his three years prior to the lockout, Gill was a combined +53, and never posted anything lower than a +16 in any of those three years.
I think adding a guy like that could help...if you';re looking for a stay-at-home defenseman to play in your 5-6 slot, bring in a real stay-at-home defenseman.
So if we came into next year with something like this:
Gonchar, Mitchell/Salei/etc., Whitney, Orpik, Welch, Gill, and Bissonnette/Scuderi/Lannon/Schneider as the top seven, I'd be awfully happy.