Changes Were Made; Changes Of A Serious Degree
It was early May when the rumors started to flow; the talk of Jordan Staal being traded and Pittsburgh making a major move or two. Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma said changes will be made and they weren't kidding.
Just before the 2012 NHL Draft got underway; the Pittsburgh Penguins traded Jordan Staal to Carolina. In return, they received Brandon Sutter, prospect Brian Dumoulin, and the 8th overall pick in the draft that became Derrick Pouliot. Overall, the value sent to both teams can be considered very fair, but Pittsburgh was not done dealing.
It was just a few hours later when the Penguins selected another defenseman in the 2012 draft, at number 22, Olli Maatta of Finland. With two defensemen taken, the Penguins felt it was alright to trade one away.
Zbynek Michalek was traded back to the Phoenix Coyotes after struggling to find his game in a very open Eastern Conference system. In return, Pittsburgh received another defensemen and a goaltending prospect. With all of the shuffling, it was difficult to notice what had actually happened.
With Staal traded, the Penguins received two strong defensive prospects (one via the draft pick). They then selected a defenseman at 22 and traded Michalek for another defenseman. The Penguins now sit with a plethora of young defensemen.
2011 draft picks Joe Morrow and Scott Harrington were close to making the AHL last season, but were sent back for development. Simon Despres is already busting down the doors to the NHL and is looking for a full time position.
Dumoulin is a 6-4 space eater that won two national titles at Boston College. Pouliot is Joe Morrow’s teammate in Portland, making that pairing a systematic choice. Developing them together could have huge upside.
Getting another big, space-eating defenseman from Phoenix was important as well. The 6-3 Roupp was a defensemen Pittsburgh wanted to take last season, but failed to do so. That's a ton of talent, but there is a huge reason for that.
Defensemen are going to be paid well beyond what they are worth in today's free agent market. Everyone wants defense. Pittsburgh now has so many trade opportunities and assets to move with the amount of defense they carry.
Paul Martin may or may not be moved. But, one thing is for sure, Pittsburgh will not overpay for another free agent defenseman.
The Penguins have cleared over $8 million in cap space and potentially, could have upwards of 10 or $11 million in space to play with. This is huge considering there are two forwards that are on the Penguins radar.
One is none other than Zach Parise, who played with Sidney Crosby at Shattuck St.Mary’s prep school. The two have been friends for a long time and could possibly join up together, if the money is right. Zach is currently looking at unrestricted free agenct status and with bankruptcy claims in N.J., Parise might be on the move.
If Pittsburgh can somehow get him to lock into a longer deal worth close to $7 million, they could be set for the resigning of Malkin and Crosby. If Parise is looking for more, than one other Atlantic Division foe is going to be looked at.
P.A. Parenteau, a free agent coming off of Long Island. His numbers are pretty good playing with Taveres, so you would think they would go up playing alongside Crosby. It wouldn’t need to be an expensive deal to get P.A. into a Pens jersey; however, I’m sure it would take a long contract to get him in for less money than others and he might not be worth a four or five-year deal.
If Pittsburgh is looking for a pit stop, they might just have to look into Ray Whitney, who at 40 is still looking to play. He would cost a good bit, close to $3.5 million to bring in, but would be a great sharp shooter on a top line.
All in all, Ray Shero had a plan. He gained an established NHL center. He stockpiled young defense. He opened up a lot of cap space to bring in a big free agent. Pittsburgh is currently not as strong as they were a few days ago, but they have about $8 million to help solve that issue, as well as an immensely deep prospect pool.
+ I also have to point out that Pittsburgh recieved value beyond what I thought Staal was going to bring at this point in his contract situation. Sutter is going to be a great third line center, Dumoulin should continue to grow, and Poulliot has a similar skill set to Kris Letang (which thrives in an open system like Pittsburgh's).