Share This Page

Without Parise, Pens turn focus elsewhere

| Wednesday, July 4, 2012, 12:28 p.m.
FILE - In this April 3, 2012, file photo, New Jersey Devils' Zach Parise waits for action to resume during his 500th career NHL hockey game in the second period against the New York Islanders in Newark, N.J. Parise is closing in on his decision for what team he will call home next season as he works through the free agency process after not immediately re-signing with the Devils, according to the Canadian Press on Monday, July 2. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
ASSOCIATED PRESS
New Jersey Devils left wing Zach Parise (9) trips over Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (8) and Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) in the second period during Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup finals, Monday, June 11, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Plan B might have to wait.

The Penguins failed to land Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the prizes of free agency. Coupled with power-play specialist Steve Sullivan departing — he signed with Phoenix on Wednesday — a top-six vacancy at forward is clear.

A lackluster free agent market doesn't figure to make general manager Ray Shero's job easy.

“If we could (find center Sidney Crosby) a winger, that would be fantastic,” Shero said. “It would make my life a lot easier, (but) Sid does pretty well whoever he plays with. I'd love to get a winger for Sidney, but those guys don't fall off trees.”

The Minnesota Wild made the biggest splash of free agency, landing left wing Parise and defenseman Suter with matching 13-year, $98 million deals. The Penguins' offer to Parise was believed to be about $8 million per season.

The Penguins, who also had interest in Suter, were confident they could acquire Parise. Now they're left to ponder what's next.

Shunned by a top winger for the second consecutive offseason — Jaromir Jagr passed on joining the team a year ago — the Penguins' best bets in free agency could be Phoenix's Shane Doan and Washington's Alexander Semin. Anaheim sniper Bobby Ryan and Columbus captain Rick Nash could be available via trade.

Shero is ruling nothing out, nor is he tipping his hand.

“They're under contracts with those respective teams. There's not much I can say about them,” Shero said of Ryan and Nash.

“If there's a trade that makes sense ... you never know what's going to happen.”

The Penguins, who historically have spent to the salary cap, find themselves in an unfamiliar position with $10.5 million of wiggle room. Shero has permission to spend to the $70.2 million limit.

He has the financial flexibility and assets — young defensemen Simon Despres, Joe Morrow, Scott Harrington, Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot figure to draw a hefty return if any of them are moved — to acquire a high-priced player in a trade.

“We'll go with what we have at this point,” Shero said. “We'll see what's available. ... If you can improve your team, you're going to do that. One thing that we have now that we haven't had in a while is cap space.”

The trades of Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek gave the Penguins that wiggle room. Center Brandon Sutter will replace Staal, but the Penguins haven't found a veteran replacement on the blue line for Michalek.

“You're not going to find Ryan Suter out there,” Shero said.

“We like our defense the way it is. If there's a chance to upgrade, certainly we're going to do that. But there are a lot of teams looking for defensemen. They're not easy to find.”

Shero did not rule out the possibility of giving a current forward — he mentioned Tyler Kennedy — a chance to replace Sullivan on the top two lines.

“We're going to have to wait and see,” he said. “If we don't fill that hole via free agency or a trade, then somebody's going to get an opportunity. We've always talked about TK having the ability to move up. Maybe it's his time to do that.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jyohe@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.