Reaction to Staal trade here
Reaction to Michalek trade here
The mood in Pittsburgh is shifting faster than Kris Letang on meth, from shock to sadness to euphoria and back again. Jordan Staal was here, then, in a blink, he was gone. Zybnek Michalek was sent home to Phoenix. The Pens are left with a ludicrous treasure chest of young defensemen, a more-than-suitable 3rd line center in Brandon Sutter, $15 million in cap room, and the promise of something huge.
|No chance of him underperforming.|
1. Trade for a #1 defenseman
It doesn't take much to read between the lines here. The word is out that Brooks Orpik may be dealt, and it's safe to conclude Shero agrees with us on this point: Orpik is no longer a top pairing defenseman, if he ever was one. Shero must find a defensive anchor to pair with the uber-talented, but all-hopped-up-on-Mountain-Dew Kris Letang. UFA targets? You won't find any that meet our criteria outside of Suter. The answer likely must come in a trade. If the Preds manage to retain Suter, can Shea Weber be had? What about somebody else with a hefty salary that could be had in a shakeup? Brent Seabrook ($5.8M cap hit)? Shero has already kicked the tires on Keith Yandle. Should he kick harder?
If the Pens have one of these targets in view, the question becomes what they'll offer in a trade. A few names come to mind: Chris Kunitz, Simon Despres, and Pascal Dupuis. We've long been on record as saying if you're going to trade Kunitz, the time is now. He'll have tremendous appeal for any contending team looking to add a guy who's good for 25 goals, can play on a top line, and competes his little honey badger ass off every night. His 3.75 M cap hit looks eminently reasonable with a projected $70M cap. Despres is a guy with top-pairing upside who's ready to play now. And chances are the Pens didn't draft Joe Morrow and Scott Harrington's two buddies in the first round on Friday so they could break up that quartet almost immediately. Simon is as good as gone in any major deal. Dupuis is no less than the best bargain in the league at wing. Find a better one. The Pens would be loathe to trade him for this reason, and because he and Matt Cooke are now essential to a penalty-killing unit that ...hang on, I'm being told the PK gave up 800 goals in the first round of the playoffs. Never mind.
2) Sign veteran depth on D. Big veteran depth.
Bryan Allen should be a target on July 1. That is, if you feel the Pens could use a 6'5, 225 pound defenseman. And, unless you read this site solely for the Bachelorette recaps, we suspect that's exactly the way you feel.
3) Bobby Ryan
The bidding for Ryan, a 25-year-old 30 goal scorer with two years left at a very reasonable $5.1M cap hit, is likely to approach Parise-level intensity. The difference being you'd need to give up big-time assets to get him. But, as discussed above, the Pens have some attractive pieces. Will it be enough? Maybe not. We have Paul Holmgren, who acts like a monkey throwing shit against a wall to see if it will stick every summer, as our chief competition for Ryan, with numerous others in the mix as well.
There are other possibilities, of course. And if there is one thing we can be sure of in this emotional summer of uncertainty, Ray Shero knows what they are.