A Look at the Alternatives

We’re running headlong towards the official start of the free agent signing period, although Ryan Suter announced on Friday that he will not be talking with teams on Sunday. What that means is that the three quarters of teams who really believe they might be able to sign Suter probably won’t do anything until Monday (including the Penguins). That being said, at this time I want to look at some of the other alternatives in this free agent class. If you read Pensblog, this might look familiar, however, I settled on my list on Wednesday but haven’t had the opportunity to write about it in light of the Crosby news from Thursday.

Forwards:


PA Parenteau: Is there really any question that this guy is going to be the second most coveted forward behind Parise? Dude has played his whole career for the Islanders yet his 67 points last season are only 2 short of Parise’s 69 (although they’re 10 short of Ray Whitney, but he’s 40). Admittedly, his 18 goals would rank behind Matt Cooke and yes he is a “playmaker” and not a “pure scorer” like Parise is, but when you’re playing with Sidney Crosby, I can’t see how that is going to matter. The best part about Parenteau is that he’s approximately the same age as Parise, he put up nearly identical numbers as Parise, yet he’ll probably command half the salary. If you’re hoping that the Penguins will sign Suter, Parenteau is your best friend right now.


Shane Doan: the Pensblog made fun of him but I’m going to do the opposite. Yes, he does have a tendency to cry when his team isn’t getting calls but he is an absolute warrior, and he can definitely hit some people. This is a guy that’s in the last couple years of his career and he’s yet to really have a chance at a Cup. That could be good motivation to come to Pittsburgh. Last year he still put up 22 goals and 50 points playing with Radim Vrbata, think about what he could do with Sid…


Jordin Tootoo: definitely not a top 6 forward and definitely not “a winger for Sid,” but he is as tough as they come and can be just as big of a game changer as either of the guys listed above. Can you imagine a third line of Tootoo, Cooke, and Sutter? If I were Claude Giroux I might wet myself with anticipation of going up against those guys. Some outlets are suggesting that the Pens need two forwards in free agency, I hope Shero remembers this guy.

Defense:


Bryan Allen: people were talking him up and down in Pittsburgh during the trade deadline and with good reason. He’s a hitter. As I have long contended, the Penguins need a more physical blueline presence. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that we went to the Stanley Cup Finals in back to back years after Hal Gill joined the Pens and Brooks Orpik, and since Gill left the Pens haven’t made it past the second round. Further, although Allen is a little bit older (although no older than Brooks or Paul Martin) that might benefit the Penguins. At the worst you would have to conclude that the team is at most one year away from Simon Despres really ascending to be a permanent fixture on the Penguins blueline, we’re probably 2-3 years from Joe Morrow and/or Scott Harrington and one more from that for Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot, in other words, we don’t need to sign a younger guy (like Matt Carle) to a long-term deal. We really need a 2-3 year stop gap and Allen could fill that role perfectly.


Matt Carle: Pensblog described him as like Paul Martin except younger and better, every person I know from Philly has described him as Paul Martin except worse. The choice is yours but I’d rather pass on this one.


Jason Garrison: sort of came out of nowhere to put up 16 goals from the blueline for Florida last year. Spent most of this year playing with Brian Campbell and that’s probably who he best resembles, a big time puck mover who eats minutes, but he also sometimes does those things to an annoying and self-destructive level. He could make sense here under two conditions: if you really were hoping to bring Ryan Suter in for his offense more than his all around game, Garrison could be a cheaper version of that. Further, if you don’t think you’ll be coming to terms with Steve Sullivan, Garrison could be a great asset on the point along with Letang.
That’s my list. Certainly there are other guys out there who will get some headlines and some attention, but I think these guys constitute the best alternatives specifically catered to the Penguins on the UFA market. Is it just me or is a Paul Martin trade looking less and less realistic?

Also: late breaking, Matt Niskanen has officially come to terms with the Pens on a 2-year, $4.6 million deal. First, off, I said $2.5 million so I was pretty close, and secondly, this is a really good deal for all involved. That mean’s the Pens have six NHL d-men under contract right now, overall they have 19 players under contract and still have $12.5 million to spend. Neal with it.

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