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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Sidney Crosby: “Never has a Man Signing a Nine Figure Contract Looked so Unselfish”

So by now I know for a fact that you know that Sidney Crosby and the Penguins have come to an agreement on a new contract that will presumably be signed in fact on Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 12:00:01 PM. As you know, it’s 12 years with an annual cap hit of $8.7 million. Admittedly, the first seven years of the deal will be paying between 10 and 12 million while the rest will be a lot lower. Of course as a fan, this is quite literally biblical. There is so much to read into this, all of it is good, all of it is more than likely true.

First, to set the mood, some more gold from DK. Make no doubt about it, he’s writing for the Hall of Fame right now.

What does it tell us? That this is quite literally the face of an entire sport, and really all he wants to do is win. He wants to do whatever is necessary to make sure that he goes down as one of the winningest players of all time, possibly even more than he cares about achieving personal goals. It tells us as fans that we have really earned his adoration and respect and that we mean enough to him that he doesn’t care to ever see what the response would be in another city. It’s been all over the Twitters but there is no doubt in my mind that this has to set a new record for humility, even if he is still making nine figures over the course of the contract. Again we’re talking about the face of the LEAGUE, not just a team, not just over the course of a couple of years, we’re talking about the guy who has carried the mantle since day one and likely will do so until the day he retires, and he left approximately $5.5 million per season on the table, presumably without batting an eye.

For all we know, he walked into the negotiations, Shero threw him some number between $9 and $10 million a year, and Sid’s response was, “Eh, I came down in my Lambo, wearing my Olympic gold medal and my Cup ring, there are 10 chicks waiting at my palatial mansion right now, let’s just do the same number and call it a day.” And they did.

Some people are quick to say that this makes Sid a “Penguin for Life” and the best part is that they’re wrong. This not-yet-25-year-old is locked up until he turns 38. What’s to say that he won’t be a Penguin for another five years after that?

I mean yes there are some dour spots, Crosby hasn’t fully asserted himself as the best player in the world since 2010, and yes his next hit could be his last, but frankly the same could be said about any person doing any single thing in the world, so why not enjoy it? The Penguins have undoubtedly taken out some pretty solid insurance against that possibility and now its time for us as fans to celebrate 12 more years of Sidney Crosby. Get more below. Read the rest of this entry »


Link Drop: T-Minus 1 Week

Well I say minus one week, but that’s approximate. Will Free Agency still start on July 1 at noon even though it’s a Sunday? I’m actually not certain. Anyway, this is just going to be a little bit of shinfo that has been collected over the last 20-ish hours regarding the Penguins in the final week before free agency.

  • Another sick piece from Dejan on Donald Fehr, Gary Bettman and the possibility of an NHL work stoppage. I’ve heard that the first discussions between the NHLPA and the owners is set to take place just before July 1. As Dejan stated, Fehr is most famous for ruining the competitiveness of MLB. I really hope things don’t come to that in the NHL. I don’t really think that it will. The players have to know that they’ll never get more than they’re getting now, for reference the NFLPA’s most recent agreement was only 48% of average team revenues while currently the NHL is at 57%, further, the owner’s really shouldn’t have anything to complain about, the league has experienced enormous gains in revenue despite the recent recession and both the American and Canadian dollar have been getting stronger. I am curious as to what rules changes we will see and I hope that the two sides don’t forget to talk about those. For more on what we think the league should do, check out Mike’s awesome A Modest Proposal series: parts 1, 2, and 3.
  • A lot of good stuff coming from the Pensblog, however, this piece is especially worth it. In consecutive days they’re going to argue for either Parise or Suter, today they chose Suter. A lot of it makes so much sense and sort of reiterates what I said yesterday about him. They came up with different contract numbers and different potential pairings, but their rationale is spot on.
  • It’s not so much an article as it is a single tweet, and it is from Rob Rossi, but Rossi had details on the Michalek trade like an hour before anyone else, so I kind of believe him here too. He’s says that the Penguins have potential suitors for Paul Martin, but they aren’t entirely sure what to do with him now. It’s further collaborated by Dave Molinari right now.
  • Been starting to hear a lot about the Penguins potentially seeking a trade with Anaheim for Bobby Ryan, who is reported to be unhappy on a crappy team in a poor hockey market. I normally don’t like the Bleacher Report for its sensationalist stories and it’s occasionally illegible writing, but this seems to be fairly well reasoned. I’ll say this, Ryan is just as good of a scorer as Parise, is younger than Parise, is less injury prone, and constitutes a truly “big” winger. But I also feel like bringing in Parise, even if it costs more, will bring in more intangibles than you can get from Ryan. Also, I don’t want to bring in a scoring winger who costs more than James Neal but has never put up as many points as Neal did last year. Although taking him away from the Flyers would be well worth it.
  • Two superb back to back interviews on Empty Netters, one the transcript of Brandon Sutter’s first conference call with Pittsburgh reporters, the second an interview with Jason Botterill, assistant GM of the Pens. You’ll learn something if you read these.

Finally some good news for us. Later this evening Mike and I will be meeting to discuss the future of this blog which could include a serious revamping and restyling. We’ll keep you posted as we move forward.

A little music because I don’t have anything funny to put up: