SUTER HAS HUGE IMPACT ON MARTIN’S FUTURE IN PIT
The Pittsburgh Penguins held multiple trade discussions with teams over the weekend about 31 year old defenseman Paul Martin, the team’s highest paid defender who carries a $5 million cap hit and has $14 million left on the remaining three years of his contract. Among two of the teams Pittsburgh had talks with during draft weekend included the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning, sources confirmed.
Despite gauging the trade market for Martin, Pittsburgh is not prepared to move Martin just yet and are comfortable to hold onto to him. However, there’s a reason Pittsburgh has decided to establish trade talks for Martin and Martin’s future in Pittsburgh is expected to be dictated by whether the Penguins add a No. 1, No. 2 pairing defenseman or not in the next 7-10 days.
If the Penguins strike out on adding a top-4 defenseman, the Penguins are prepared to keep Martin. The team though is looking to hit a home run and go all out to sign defenseman Ryan Suter, a franchise type defenseman who is their top off-season priority. Pittsburgh feels they have a great chance to lure Suter to Pittsburgh but the bidding is going to be intense. The Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks are among three teams Suter has a strong interest in playing, a league source says.
Suter has a huge impact on Martin’s future. If Pittsburgh signs him, the Penguins will then consider strongly to move Martin to free up money for a top flight winger like a Zach Parise who the Penguins will look into on July 1, and signing Suter, the Penguins believe will open the trade market even more for Martin as team’s like Minnesota, others could join the discussion.
“I think a lot of things are being held up, maybe by July 1 with a couple notable free agents and after that I think things will fall through. Once one of those things fall, might be a domino, ” GM Ray Shero said on Saturday.
One swap that is possible to happen is the Penguins signing Suter and later trading Paul Martin to
Nashville who have shown preliminary interest in Martin.
Missing out on Suter though will enhance Martin’s chances of sticking around tremendously. The trade and free agent market is thin for a No. 1 type defenseman and top-4 defenseman overall, as borderline top-4 D-men ready to hit the open market like a Jason Garrison are expected to get vastly overpaid and be in line for $4 to $5 million per season.
Philadelphia’s Matt Carle is viewed as an excellent fit for the Penguins by scouts I’ve spoken to this off-season, but Carle is widely expected to resign with the Flyers.
The Penguins are said to see moving Martin without adding a No. 1 or No. 2 defenseman as leaving the team way too inexperienced on the backend.
On the trade front the Penguins have not ruled re-engaging in talks with the Phoenix Coyotes about Keith Yandle. Yandle, 25, has four years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $5.25 million. Not a physically imposing player, the Penguins are said to see Yandle as a perfect fit with Kris Letang as a No. 1 pairing. The asking price though for Yandle is steep with the Coyotes seeking a high end forward which was a stumbling block in talks for Pittsburgh over the weekend.
PENS TO GO AFTER SCHULTZ?
The bidding for Wisconsin defenseman Justin Schultz is expected to be right up there with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Schultz, 21, is expected to be one of the most coveted players this summer and becomes a free agent at 12:00 a.m. on Monday.
League executives believe all 30 teams will be in hot pursuit of the dynamic offensive defenseman who had 18 goals and 44 points in 37 games with Wisconsin. One reason so many teams will be in pursuit is because Schultz can only have a max cap hit of $3.8 million on a three year deal that centers around a $925,000 base salary and $2 million per season in performance bonuses.
Will the Penguins be an aggressive suitor and are they a realistic possibility? There continues to be mixed signals on how serious the Penguins are about Schultz but i don’t get the sense the team will try to lure him to Pittsburgh.
There’s no denying the Penguins are infatuated with offensive defenseman and there’s not a more dynamic one this off-season than Schultz who has the skill and poise to be a top-6 defenseman now and run a top power play unit. Schultz though doesn’t particularly fit as he’s not a physical blueliner and will surely have a number of growing pains defensively. In two-three years, evaluators feel Schultz will be top-2 pairing impact defenseman and a potential star but not immediately.
Schultz is also looking for a situation where he’s a lock to be a top-6 defenseman, with many around the league saying he wants to play in Canada and pegging the Oilers and Leafs as the favorites to sign Schultz, in addition to the New York Rangers due to Schultz being close with former Wisconsin teammates Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh.