Penguins Free-Agent Plans Go Pfft – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Free-Agent Plans Go Pfft

It wasn’t supposed to work out this way. Thanks to a pair of bold trades by Penguins GM Ray Shero at the Entry Draft that freed up millions in salary-cap space, the black and gold were supposed to be major players in the Zach PariseRyan Suter free-agent sweepstakes.

One could almost picture Parise working the give-and-go to perfection with pal Sidney Crosby. And the steady, productive Suter would’ve looked awfully nice anchoring the Pens’ new-look defense beside incumbent All-Star Kris Letang. Too bad Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher had to go and ruin his former boss’s plans by signing each to 13-year deals for a cool $98 million apiece.

Turns out, the Penguins weren’t even in the running.

“We never got close to anything like that, in terms of any sort of verbal agreement,” Shero said. “Or any negotiation.”

Although it’s tough to put a positive spin on losing out on this summer’s free-agent plums, every cloud has a silver lining. In addition to saving tons of cap space for future deals, Parise’s snub opens the door for eternal prospect Eric Tangradi. The strapping winger’s put up good numbers in junior and at Wilkes-Barre. Perhaps it’s time to see if he can produce in a top-six role at the NHL level. Ditto for Dustin Jeffrey, who showed occasional flashes until a knee injury derailed him in 2011.

Another option might be Phoenix free agent Shane Doan. The Coyotes’ long-time captain is waiting to see if the sale of the club to prospective buyer Greg Jamison is approved. If the league rubber stamps the deal, look for Doan to stay in the desert. However, if the purchase falls through, the burly 6-1, 230-pounder might be willing to join another team.

It’s no secret the 35-year-old winger would love to hoist the Stanley Cup before he hangs up his skates. He’d have a legitimate shot with the Penguins. A complete player, Doan combines a scoring touch (318 career goals) with toughness and an exemplary team-first attitude. Best of all, he’d provide the veteran leadership the black and gold has lacked since the departures of Sergei Gonchar and Bill Guerin.

Trade-wise, big-time scorers Rick Nash (Columbus) and Bobby Ryan (Anaheim) are rumored to be on the block. Neither would come cheap. And Nash and Crosby displayed precious little chemistry as Olympic linemates a couple of years ago.

The situation’s murkier on defense. While the Pens possess enviable organizational depth on the blue line, there’s a glaring need for a strong, all-around d-man to slot beside Letang. Youngsters Simon Despres and Joe Morrow certainly have pedigree, but it’s asking a lot for either to fill the void.

Free-agent pickup Dylan Reese has decent skills, but shows little interest in playing a physical game (picture a poor man’s version of Paul Martin). Speaking of the much-maligned Martin, he remains a huge question mark following a shaky 2011-12 campaign.

A trade is always a possibility. However, given the dearth of available front-line defensemen around the league, it’s a seller’s market.

“There are a number of teams looking for defensemen now, and they’re difficult to find,” Shero noted.

Of greater concern was Shero’s decision to let free-agent forward Steve Sullivan walk. With the crafty veteran serving as quarterback, the power-play conversion rate jumped from a dismal 15.8 percent to 19.7. His departure may force the Pens to rush the gifted but green Morrow ahead of schedule.

For a team that has serious designs on winning the Stanley Cup, it’s a less-than-ideal state. But things have a way of sorting themselves out.

“We’ll see what the summer brings us,” Shero said.

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  1. pen's 4ever's Gravatar pen's 4ever
    August 5, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I heard today that Nashville is interested in Paul Martin…So what’s the hold up Ray?? I’d trade him for some pucks and a couple of pylons!!!!!!!

  2. pen's 4ever's Gravatar pen's 4ever
    July 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Yeah if Doan dosen’t sign here, Shero will have to wait for the trade deadline to get a rental winger for the playoffs.
    Don’t forget we have the surprise of the east…..


  3. Alex's Gravatar Alex
    July 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Well, with Semin signing with the Hurricanes, it leaves only Doan. And given the “aggression” Shero’s been showing this off-season, there’s no indication that the Pens will sign him. Trading for Bobby Ryan also seems very unlikely…

  4. pen's 4ever's Gravatar pen's 4ever
    July 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink


    put Paul Martin all alone up there!!!!

  5. pen's 4ever's Gravatar pen's 4ever
    July 15, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Paul Martin is a poor man’s Paul Martin!!!


  6. pen's 4ever's Gravatar pen's 4ever
    July 15, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I ve said since Tangradi came up with the Pen’s to give him a regular shot on a top line.. but the coaches didn’t. You can’t look at a prospect for 4-6mins on the fourth line for two games and expect great things from him. I thought he and SID looked good and had some chemistry against Philly in the playoffs, when Eric was given a shot on his wing. Eric needs about 12-15 games on the PP and play wing for Sid and see what he can do

  7. July 9, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink


    As always, love reading your take on all things Penguins. Unfortunately, 28 other GM’s didn’t land Suter and Parisie either. I think both of these guys had made up their minds to go to Minnesota before free agency had even started so it didn’t really matter what the Penguins’ offer was going to be. From what I’m hearing the Penguins had zero interest in bringing back Sullivan so his agents rumblings that he got tired of waiting for the Penguins to make an offer was just posturing.

    Penguins really have no shot at landing Nash as Scott Howson was asking for guys like Logan Couture from San Jose and Jeff Skinner from Carolina, and we simply have no one in our system right now that fits that bill. Same pretty much goes for Bobby Ryan as Anaheim are thought to be looking at NHL ready forwards as compensation.

    I’m shocked that not one team including the Penguins has made an offer for Alex Semin. The guy is an out an out sniper and has the third highest +/- rating in the NHL over the last three years. Yes, he has a bad habit of disappearing in the playoffs, but you’d have to think there would be teams happy to have him help them get there.

    I’m also hearing rumblings that the Penguins are talking to St. Louis about Chris Stewart. His trade to the Blues hasn’t really worked out, and I think they would be happy to part company with him. I think he would line up well with Crosby giving him a winger that’s tough and can park himself in front of the net.

    Shoring up the defense is going to be a little more difficult as you are so right when you say it’s a seller’s market. Maybe this will be the opportunity one of the young guys needs to step up and show he’s NHL ready.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      July 10, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      It’s nice to hear from you Disco Stu. You always have great comments and observations.

      Personally, I’d love to see the Pens add someone like Chris Stewart who combines size and toughness with a scoring touch. I think they’ve defanged a little too much over the last couple of seasons—especially with the recent loss of Arron Asham. While Tanner Glass is an upgrade over Asham (younger, bigger, faster and just as aggressive) from a hockey standpoint, he doesn’t possess Ash’s kayo punch.

      At 6’1” and 228 pounds Stewart’s one of the last of a dying breed … a good, old fashioned, score-and-drop-the-mitts power forward. He’s young (he turns 25 in October). And he had consecutive 28-goal seasons before dipping to 15 in 2011-12.

      Still, you’ve got to wonder why two teams (Colorado and now St. Louis) have given up on him. The rumor a couple of years ago was that he liked to party too much. You never know if that stuff is true or not, but it might explain why the Blues are trying to move him.

      The lack of interest in Alexander Semin is telling, isn’t it? There’s no questioning his talent … he’s probably one of the most skilled guys in the league. But his numbers plummeted the last couple of seasons (from a career-best 40 goals in 2009-10 to 21 last year). Deserving or not, he has a rep for being a quintessential self-centered Russian (see Alexander Radulov). The Pens are probably afraid he’d have Malkin drinking a fifth of vodka a day by November …

      Speaking of possibilities, a guy I’ve always liked is Pittsburgh native R.J. Umberger. While he’s not overly fast or physical, he’s got size (6’2”, 216), always seems to be around the puck, and possesses a decent scoring touch (four straight 20-goal seasons). There’s no indication Columbus is trying to move him, but I’ve always been impressed with his work ethic and hustle.


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