FREE AGENCY UPDATE I
The interesting dynamic to watch today for the Penguins is how their chase of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise affects their ability to stay in the game for their particular fall back options.
We’ll start with Zach Parise who is looking for significant money upfront, reportedly a $12 million signing bonus in year 1 and another $12 million signing bonus due next July 1st. The Penguins I’m told don’t have a good feel on how things are going to go in their pursuit of Parise but there continues to be rumblings out of Parise’s inner circle that he has so much respect for the Devils, that they see him not signing with a division rival and going to the Western Conference if he he bolts New Jersey, despite how attractive the opportunity to play with Sidney Crosby might be. We’ll soon find out if there’s anything to that talk.
Many still believe Minnesota will be coming in with the highest bid to Parise, likely in the $100+ million range sources say, and possibly as much as $20-$25 million more than the Penguins will be willing to go. This talk though of the Penguins not being interested in offering a front loaded deal is not accurate, team sources. They see Parise as a great opportunity and won’t let that affect things.Â The Penguins, Wild, Red Wings, Stars, Senators, Kings, Ducks, Hurricanes, Flyers and possibly even the Rangers are among the teams expected to make a serious pitch for Parise. The sense is Parise will be signing much quicker than Ryan Suter who unlike Parise is going into free agency with the intention of not signing until tomorrow at the earliest. The sense on Parise is that he could sign by the end of the business day but a decision could wait out until tomorrow, operating under the same kind of strategy Parise’s reps at Newport did last summer with Brad Richards.
While the Penguins will be establishing early interest with Zach Parise, they will also be checking in onÂ some particular top-6 targets on the wings they have interest in when the clock strikes noon, most of them viewed as short-term options.
40 year old Ray Whitney is one player the Penguins are expected to inquire about. Whitney has interest in Pittsburgh but is also looking to be properly compensated and to get into the game I’m told it’s going to take a $3 million + offer and Whitney’s camp believes the veteran forward could command upwards of $4 million per seasonin this market and I wouldn’t be surprised if agent JP Barry shoots for a two year deal. Whitney though might not be on the market long and likely signs quickly I’m told, based on the interest Whitney’s camp expects. Longshot to join Penguins.
The team is also likely to place a call into Shane Doan but Doan won’t make a decision on where he’s playing for at least 10 days until the Coyotes ownership situation is resolved.
The Penguins also intend to keep dialogue open with winger Steve Sullivan as there is a mutual interest from both sides but as I’ve been saying for weeks, Pittsburgh isn’t ready to move on him. A good market though is expected for Sullivan withÂ word that the Hurricanes, Blues, Red Wings and Predators are going to be among the teams showing interest. Like Whitney, he could be swooped up as the Penguins wait out the Parise sweepstakes.
Other Tidbits: Based on the Penguins believed to be not ruling out Alex Semin internally,Â it’s possible they place a call into agent Mark Gandler and I expect agent Allan Walsh to be trying to sell the Penguins on PA Parenteau.
The most intriguing option might be Minnesota’s Guilaume Latendresse who is repped by Pat Brisson, the agent for Sidney Crosby. Based on a conversation I had with an individual at CAA Sports yesterday, I’m expecting Latendresse’s camp to reach out to the Penguins today but Latendress is looking to move closer to Montreal. AlsoÂ I was told earlier in the week that the Penguins might look into Jiri Hudler and see him as a fit in their system.
PENS COVET GRITTY FORWARD
Don’t be surprised if the Penguins first signing of the day is a depth gritty forward in the first couple hours of free agency. The Penguins like many teams are looking to add to some grit and if the prices of their top targets are too high, I was told again today that the Penguins have not ruled out circling back to Arron Asham who will hit the open market but hasn’t been told by the Penguins that they don’t want him. Daniel Winnik will among the top targets today, I’m told.
Brandon Prust is hot name among Penguin fans it seems, but was told again today that Prust camp expects to command three to four years worth over $2 million per season. Can’t see Pens going there but like many teams they like him.
FALLBACK OPTIONS AFTER SUTER
The Penguins know going into talks today that Ryan Suter intends to be very patient and will wait out the process and I’m told Suter is not expected to begin eliminating teams until late in the day or early tomorrow morning.
The Penguins feel this will help their sales pitch and that might not effect the Penguins plans too much as they are said to be seeking a bonafide top-4 defenseman and there’s little to no options after Suter that the Penguins view are worth the money they will command. Pittsburgh likes Matt Carle but not the money he’s going to command, sources said. “You dish out $25 million over 5 years and you’re back at square one, ” an NHL source said pointing to the deals Pittsburgh gave to Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek two summers ago. “I don’t see them making the same mistake unless they’re really sold on the player, ” the source said.
Suter is the only player Pittsburgh is sold on to throw big money atÂ but like the Parise situation at forward, Pittsburgh is likely to reach out to some fallback options at noon, but I’m told they have a very short-list of maybe one or two defensemen after Suter that they intend to target.
I can confirm the team has interest in Filip Kuba on a possible one year deal, while many league insiders believe Pittsburgh should look into Bryan Allen to add some size, toughness to the blueline but others question whether Pittsburgh feels he can fit in their system.
STAAL SIGNS 10 YEAR DEAL
Former Penguin Jordan Staal has signed nearly the same indentical deal he was offered in Pittsburgh, agreeing to a 10 year – $60 million deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.
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