Monday, July 2, 2012

GTOG Podcast: Will Zach Parise ever decide?

An emotional night at GTOG headquarters as we discuss the never ending saga of Zach Parise. How much would he help the Pens? How much is he worth? Is Finesse on acid defending Alex Semin? Is Mrs. Artistry's printing ruining Artistry's focus? What about the rest of free agency? All that, and more. It's the GTOG Podcast.

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  1. Can't remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did at Finesse's description of Kovalev.

  2. I think the summer has gotten to Finesse.

    Provided that he doesn't sign with the Flyers, I won't be disappointed about how Parise-watch ends. Parise has always been one of my favorite non-Pens, and I get chills just thinking about what he and Sid could do together. I agree with Artistry: he'd pot in the neighborhood of 40+, 80-85 pts. He has always played for a defense-first team with average centers, and I also think his game would age better than a sniper's. That said - I have the same concerns about cap space and team flexibility that everyone else has.

    But all of that is irrelevant, because this is about Sid, not Parise. Sid just gave the Pens a gift of a contract, and they owe him a wing. Watching Sid play next to Duper and Sully all playoffs, I felt like that dude on the machine in the Princess Bride. That can't happen again (and shouldn't have happened then). He deserves better and has been infinitely patient. Without a doubt - the Pens are offering Parise what they are offering him for Sid. If the man wants Zach Parise, you do your best to get frickin Zach Parise - regardless of any qualms you might have.

    As far as the defense, a million-year contract for Suter is no better than one for Parise. Sorry, but it isn't. We have a bucket-load of high-end young defenseman that will come up in the next 2-4 years to help with the cap concerns. I also don't want to risk losing Letang for Suter (maybe you disagree, but in my mind, Tanger is the better talent). I'd rather be saddled with a long forward contract, seeing as we have NO top-end forward prospects.

    The defense was nowhere near as bad as it looked in the playoffs. Sid coming back threw the teams chemistry off, Fleury went from rock-steady to horrifying, and the PK tanked. Those are one-time issues not fixed by throwing a top-end defenseman at them. Suter isn't even the big, net-clearing presence the Pens need, and I didn't want any of the guys on the FA list - not one.

    It's also worth noting that the Pens are trying to upgrade their size and defensive presence through the forward corps. Sutter, Glass - and Parise, if he comes - are good defensive forwards who will make life difficult for the opposition. Not even Staal could be bothered with that last year, once he decided he was a scoring center. That will help as much as a new defenseman. This isn't football.

    Finally, I think you need to let Despres play. They've brought him along slowly - but now its time for him to get thrown into the fire. He a horse of a guy with first-round pedigree. No one has any idea if he can be a good, shut-down 3-4 guy because he hasn't had the chance yet. Eventually you have to see what you got, which means you need to play him decent minutes against decent competition. Let him and Niskanen fight for a second-pairing spot. By Jan/Feb, Shero will know if he needs to make a trade - rather than overpaying for the crap on the FA pile.

  3. I disagree that getting Parise is (or should be) about placating Sid or giving him the winger that he deserves. We did get Sid the winger he deserves: James Neal. Unfortunately, Sid wasn't healthy to start the season so Geno stepped in and turned Neal into a 40-goal guy.

    Also, I take issue with the notion that any winger is a "winger for" somebody. Neal is not a winger for Malkin. If they struggle to start next season, then put Neal with Crosby. This stuff isn't set in stone. We screamed loudly from the mountain top last season that when Sid returned in March, Kunitz should be switched to his line to make the offense more balanced and because if you look at just the numbers, Kunitz was performing at almost the exact same level with Malkin and Neal as he was without them. The point is that line combinations are extremely flexible, and as quickly as two players can develop chemistry, they can lose it, too.

    None of this is to say that I don't love Parise or think the Pens wouldn't be better off if Parise was on the team. Of course we would be. But the notion that Parise is worth 12 years/$96 million strikes me as moderately crazy. He scored 45 goals once -- three FULL seasons ago. He's now 27 years many hockey players get significantly better after 27 years old, let alone for 12 years until they are 39?

    And I do think he would have great chemistry with Sid, although it's unclear whether that would be because of some magical chemistry or because they are both super talented and couldn't help but be good. Sid is not Mario in 1986 -- he's not winning any wingers a Rocket Richard trophy. I can't think of a single winger who Sid has really helped reach significantly higher levels just by being "on Sid's wing. Now you could of course argue that is because hasn't had good enough wingers...but the flip side of that is that if you put Parise on Sid's wing and he scores 40, is that really attributable to Sid? Because Parise has done it before without Sid. Sid is a 100+ point guy no matter who he is with, but I'm not writing Parise's Hall of Fame plaque just because he gets to skate with Sid.

    If we get Parise we may have so much skill and firepower that we muscle our way to the Cup. But the way the playoffs went this past year, I wouldn't bet on it unless Flower gets significantly better (no confidence in that) or we upgrade the defense. Parise would be fortifying what is already the Pens' strength; I just hope it's not at the expense of ignoring our biggest weakness -- defense.

    I'd love to let Despres play. I think he will be good. But he's 20 years old and played 18 games -- we all hope he's good, and think he will be good, but do we really know? The same goes for the entire stock of minor league defensemen. They all seem great and sound like they'll be nice players. But let's not forget that none of them has done a thing in the NHL yet and, more importantly, every team in the league gets a first round pick. It's not like we're the only outfit with studs in reserve.

    If Parise's 45 goals in 2009 are relevant then so is the Pens' Stanley Cup experience. We were hard to play against in 2009, not just because of talent but because of team defense. Now, we have talent, but we don't frustrate anyone. I completely agree with you that Sutter and Glass could really help in that regard. But as much talent as we may have on the back end, there's not a single defenseman who other teams get frustrated playing against, either because he's just a load (like Chara or Hal Gil) or because he's just really sound (like Lidstrom or, maybe, Suter).

    Maybe Despres, Doumoulin, Harrington, Morrow and those guys are the answer. I don't watch them enough and can't pretend to know the answer. But if they are the answer, I hope it's in 2012-13 and we don't have to wait until 2017-18.

  4. I was just kidding about the summer thing. Like I said, I get the concerns about the money and term, although I believe that mid-30s Parise will be comparable to a mid-30s Iginla, slower, not quite what he was, but still pretty darn useful. I won't be disappointed if we don't get him - but I won't be sorry if we do. That's all.

    As far as Sid, regardless of what you think the Pens should do, this whole ordeal makes be believe that they ARE placating Sid, right or wrong. I see no other reason for them waiting this long (well, that and the fact that there really were no FAs worth having).

    I know you, me, and Artistry were the only people in Pittsburgh who thought that the Kunie-Geno-Neal line should have been broken up. And I disagree completely that a winger doesn't make a difference. BS. Sure - Geno got Neal 40 goals, but Neal gave Geno the support to win his first Hart. Why? Because Geno played better with Neal - had more room, etc. And it was truly terrible to see Sid hampered by 2 crap wings in the playoffs. Would Sid and Geno both still be productive with 3rd line wings. Sure - they are that talented. But they are so much better with true top-6 wings.

  5. You may be right that Shero is looking to pay Sid back in the form of better linemates in exchange for taking a smaller contract. If true, I don't like it, but I guess I understand.

    And I definitely agree that better wingers would make Sid a better player ... but there's a salary cap, and that requires choices. All I'm saying is that my preference is that the Pens focus on upgrading the defense with the resources (cap space/prospects) we have available.

    As much as I love Parise and think it would be awesome to see Sid with wingers who can keep up, at some point it becomes an embarrassment of riches up front. I just did this math on Gchat with Artistry, so I figure I'll post it here. With Parise, these are what I think are reasonable estimates for goals from the forwards next year:

    Sid - 40
    Geno - 40
    Neal - 35
    Parise - 35
    Sutter - 20
    Kunitz - 20
    Dupuis - 20
    Kennedy - 15
    Cooke - 12
    Glass/Adams/Vitale -- 10 combined.

    That's 247 goals, which would have been about 4th in the league last year. And that's just the forwards, and not even all of them. It's a hell of a lot of goals. Fun to watch and root for, for sure.

    But the way I'd placate Sid is give him back Kunitz, sign Suter (25 PP points last year -- would be huge boon to Sid), and build a team that relieves Sid and Geno of the pressure of having to score 4 goals to win.

  6. It's pretty obvious the Pens weren't the toughest team to play against in the playoffs last year. A lot of that had to be with being soft on the wings and giving up a ridiculous amount of neutral zone/high offensive zone turnovers. Parise plays a lot like Sid on the boards and won't be prone to getting knocked off the puck. At the same time, letting in 30 goals in the playoffs had more to do with a historically bad penalty kill than just bad overall defense. Upgrading the wing like this could help the defense, as the whole point of Bylsma's "system" is to keep the puck in the offensive zone.

    That being said, I am very hesitant to have $8M tied up in Parise for 12 years or whatever it ends up being. However, I don't know if it's the media's push, but it seems like Parise wants to come here significantly more than Suter. Assuming their narrative is true, it's not like Shero can just drive a dump truck of money to Suter's farm to convince him to come here. And it's not like the Pens have ANY wingers in the system ready to come up any time soon. I would almost rather the Pens not overpay, over a long term contract, any of the free agents who would come here this offseason.

    Ultimately we're all just going to have to be patient. Maybe a full season with a line-up that doesn't drastically change 15 games before the season ends, killing all of their momentum, will make for a more successful playoff run.

  7. Sorry, I just realized a lot of my points overlapped with what Brandy already said, I guess I should have read all the previous comments thoroughly before posting.

    One point I just though of, is that Suter is likely to be locked up until he's 40. A lot of fans/media are already talking about moving Orpik...who is only 31, 4 years older than Suter. The defense needs to get younger/faster/more physical and it would probably be advisable to avoid being handcuffed to a lifetime contract.

  8. It's the length of either of these contracts which is killing it for me. Sid, yeah, fine, thank god actually. Get him in for the long haul.

    But Parise... Suter... do you really want to commit that much cash over that many years to a guy who's already 27? How much upside does Parise have, and for how long? Sid's blue chip; in a class by himself (or with very few, and Parise isn't one of them), so you build a future around him. But these free agents are benefitting from being the best in a pretty thin crop. GMs are losing their minds. I have to believe that Shero can figure out a better plan than this to get someone useful for Sid.

    If this deal happens (for either guy), will the Penguins be happy with it in five years? What does it do for Malkin or Letang's demands?

    The longer this takes, the less I like bringing in these guys, because the contracts seem like way too much.