Last updated: July 03. 2013 4:42PM -
By - tvenesky@timesleader.com

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been busy retaining the rights to several familiar faces as the NHL’s free agency period kicks off on Friday.

Pittsburgh tendered qualifying offers to Paul Thompson, Brian Gibbons, Zach Sill and Riley Holzapfel — all of whom spent last season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton — on Tuesday.

Also receiving offers were newly-acquired winger Harry Zolnierczyk — who came over in the trade for Alex Grant — and goalie prospect Eric Hartzell.

All of the players are restricted free agents, and the Penguins can match any offer they recieve from other teams.

Sill, 25, is one of the longest-tenured AHL Penguins. He completed his fourth season with the club last year and has played in 259 games. Last season he set a career high with 108 penalty minutes in 57 games and saw extensive time on the penalty kill.

Holzapfel spent his first season with the Penguins last year and finished second on the team in goals (21) and points (51). He was the only player to appear in all 76 games last season.

Thompson and Gibbons each finished their second season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Thompson set career highs in goals (20) and points (29) while playing in 58 games, while Gibbons has notched 30 points in each of the last two season.

Hartzell has yet to play a professional game and has spent the last four season with Quinnipiac University. With Jeff Zatkoff signed for next season and Brad Thiessen an unrestricted free agent, Hartzell is likely to land a job with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Other unrestricted free agents from last year’s roster include forwards Warren Peters and Trevor Smith.

Free agent Keven Veilleux did not receive a qualifying offer from the Penguins, and winger Chad Kolarik with a club in Sweden last week. Defenseman Dylan Reese reportedly signed a one-year deal to play in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia next season. Forward Phil Dupuis, who missed most of last season with an injury, signed to play in Germany for 2013-2014.

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