LATEST PENS RUMBLINGS
The Pittsburgh Penguins andÂ the agentÂ for defenseman Matt Niskanen have intensified talks in the past 48 hours, after re-engaging in talks for the first time in two weeks on Thursday. According to those close to the situation, both sides are moving closer to a deal but just aren’t there yet. Talks will continue on Saturday and I’m told the Penguins, Niskanen are looking to hammer out a deal before Sunday as both sidesÂ have expressed interest in trying to work something out before July 1. The two sides are believed to have the same idea of what each party wants on the term of the contract (2 years), but still have some differences on the amount of money per season that need to be worked out when talks resume on Saturday. Pittsburgh came out of their scouting meetings earlier this month believing that Niskanen is ready to move into a top-2 pairing role, which also played a part in the team being comfortable to move Zbynek Michalek with no NHL assets coming the other way. Look for a deal to get as early as tomorrow.
SUTER TO BE VERY PATIENT IN FREE AGENCY
Word out of Ryan Suter’s camp is that the franchise defenseman intends to be very patient on July 1 and by very patient, Suter’s camp believes it’s a big longshot that Suter will sign on July 1 and the process could easily drag out past July 2nd. Whether it’s Nashville or elsewhere, Suter is looking to sign with a team that he expects to play at for the rest of his career. Therefore, he’s going to be patient and Suter planning to be patientÂ can be looked at asÂ beneficial to the Penguins.
Whether the Penguins know something I’m not sure, but the Penguins are said to be remain confident in their chances of being able to emerge as one of the top suitors for Suter, but they also feel that if Suter doesn’t rush to a decision, it will help them make the case for him to come to Pittsburgh.
As for Zach Parise……I’m told the Penguins don’t have a good feel on how that’s going to play out at all. I get the hunch that some in the local media are trying to over-rate the Crosby – Parise friendship connection like many did with the Jagr – Lemieux connection last summer during Pittsburgh’s chase for Jaromir Jagr.
While this might not make sense, I also heard today again that management views Suter as the bigger priority, need, but the team feels pressure (maybe from ownership) to find Sidney Crosby a long-term winger and signing Parise is an opportunity too good to past up in that GM Ray Shero is more likely to overpay (from the number they have in mind) for Parise than Suter if the bidding gets to that.
Parise as I mentioned earlier in the week is expected to have a different July 1 strategy than Suter as Parise’s reps at Newport Sports are expected follow suit on how they operated during the free agent frenzy last summer for Brad Richards as they hosted a number of select teams at their agency headquarters and held off on making a decision until July 2. It’s not clear if the Penguins intend to send an entourage to Newports headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario and make a presentation.
Parise will hit the open market on July 1 and many league insiders believe he’s a longshot to re-up in New Jersey due to long-term concerns of the team being able to stay competitive.