As I woke up this morning from my drunken stupor the night before, at around 9:30am, I began checking Twitter and the rumor mill for early news on Parise and Suter. Sure enough, around 11am, Dave Molinari, Pens beat writer for the Post Gazette, tweeted that the Penguins are "officially out" on Zach Parise.
And by lunch time that was confirmed when Mike Russo, Wild beat writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, announced that both Parise & Suter had agreed to identical 13-year, $98 million contracts with the Minnesota Wild.
Talk about fireworks.
In the span of about 2 hours, the Wild went from being an irrelevant, middle-of-the-road, maybe they make the playoffs kind of team, to a legit challenger at Vancouver's division dominance and possible Cup contender out west.
That's great for the "State of Hockey." But what now for Ray Shero and the Penguins?
The free agent cupboard is just about bare on wingers and defensemen. Sure they could take a stab at Alexander Semin, but by the end of the season, I think most of the team would just want to stab Alexander Semin. He's not a good locker room guy, and pretty much only goes hard when he wants to. That won't fly in this organization. And it starts at the top with one Mario Lemieux.
An interesting option, however, could be Peter Mueller. He missed most of last season with a severe concussion (just what the Pens need, I know...) but he does have some talent. And playing alongside Crosby is like supercharging a player's talent.
As for free agent wingers, he's the only one I can really see Shero taking a chance on. Probably a two year deal at best. Simply because, with concussions, you just never really know.
The more plausible plan is for Shero to test the trade market. Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan are the two big names on that front, and neither is a real good fit in Pittsburgh. Nash and Crosby played together at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and they had less chemistry than oil and water. As for Ryan, it's been rumored that he wants a trade specifically to Philly, I assume because he's from the area. Plus, a few years ago there was reportedly some animosity between he and Crosby. So no go there...
The guy that I think, at this point, that I'd most like to see on Crosby's wing, is Phil Kessel. Yes, I know the long-standing feud between them. I'm not saying it's a possibility. I'm just saying that I think, play-wise, it would be a good fit.
There was a rumor yesterday that Pittsburgh was in negotiations with Colorado for a forward/forward swap. After looking up and down their roster, no one really seems to fit what I believe Shero is looking for. And what he's looking for, quite simply, is the long-term winger/sniper for Sid.
We're gonna have to think Taco Bell on this one, folks... Outside the box.
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