Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Giddy about Pens offseason

By Jeff

The Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans will miss Jordan Staal. He helped the team hoist the Stanley Cup in 2009 and was one of the few offensive bright spots in the disappointing playoffs loss to the Philadelphia Flyers this year.

Zbynek Michalek was fun while he lasted. Kind of. In 2010-2011, he and Paul Martin were very good. When Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were knocked out, they stepped up and help the Pens become one of the top defensive teams in the league. A lot of hate has been spewed at Michalek, and more so Martin, for their regression in 2011-2012, especially the playoffs. They did play poorly in the playoffs, but to blame them for the team's problems this postseason is unfair.

That being said, moving him and freeing up cap space is fine by me. The team has a lot of depth on the defense. Michalek was expendable.

While I liked both of these former Penguins, the recent trades made by general manager Ray Shero has me all kinds of pumped for the 2012-2013 season. Hell, they have me pumped for July 1, 2012. The team has almost $15 million in cap space and there are two big names on the free agent market. You may have heard this already, but the Pens are aiming at signing forward Zach Parise and/or defenseman Ryan Suter.

Holy cow!

Let's start with Zach Parise. He's a stud winger. Let's looks at his goal totals for his past five healthy seasons (he was limited to just 13 games in 2010-2011): 31, 32, 45, 38 and 31. And that was playing with the likes of Travis Zajac as his center. With the Penguins he would have Crosby, who made Matt Cooke look like a nightly scoring threat for about 10 games last season.

With Parise playing with Crosby and James Neal playing with Malkin, the Pens would have two wingers with the potential to score 40 goals. You'd have to go back about a decade to Alexei Kovalev and Jaromir Jagr for the last time the Pens had that kind of scoring power on the wings.get

Oh, and other than 2010-2011, Parise hasn't failed to play in at least 80 games per season.

Then there is Ryan Suter. He is like a combination of Brooks Orpik and Sergei Gonchar. Seriously. He is a shut-down defenseman who delivers big hits and blocks a lot of shots. He kills penalties and contributes points on the powerplay. He has registered more than 30 assists the past four seasons and is coming a off a career high 46 points.

He would be an immediate upgrade to pretty much every defenseman on the team, at least the games when Kris Letang is mentally unstable (See Game 3 of the playoffs this year).

It's not realistic the Pens with get both players. $15 million is a lot of cap space, but these guys are going to be looking for $6-7 million/year contracts. There is word Parise might take a bit of a discount to play with his buddy Crosby, but Pittsburgh fans should be wary of stories like that. Remember when Jagr told the world he would play for the league minimum to play for Mario again? How did that work out for the team?

Then there are the Detroit Red Wings. They have $20 million in cap space and they REALLY want Suter to replace Nicklas Lidstrom (Lidstrom couldn't have waited one friggin' year!?).

The Minnesota Wild are said to want Parise, but I'm not too worried about that. I mean is an extra $1-2 million really worth it if your centers are Mikko Koivu and Kyle Brodziak when you could be playing with either Crosby or Malkin? I don't even know who Kyle Brodziak is. Parise probably doesn't either.

July 1 is going to be a great or a not as great day for Pens fans. I say not as great, because even without Parise or Suter joining the ranks, this is still a championship caliber team.

I'm giddy.

Frightened Rabbit - Backwards Walk

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