Penguins Sign Grit Early, Showing Signs Of What Is To Come
On free agency day one, the Pittsburgh Penguins attempted to woo a few key additions, but as they decided to make everyone wait, Pittsburgh made a few strong depth moves.
Already acquiring strong two way forward Brandon Sutter via trade, Pittsburgh wanted to boost its toughness level. After being beaten in all facets of the game in their opening round playoff series, the Penguins wanted to make sure that they were no longer going to be push over’s. Enter in Tanner Glass.
The UFA forward Glass spent last season with the Winnipeg Jets. The 28 year old winger posted 246 hits and 51 blocked shots last season while averaging 1:46 shorthanded. His physical presence, at 6’1 210, is something Pittsburgh was missing last season. His size alone brings a new addition considering the Penguins core of grinders consists mostly of players under the 6’ mark.
With the loss of Arron Asham, to the New York Rangers none the less, the Penguins quickly pounced on the opportunity to sign someone who was more versatile, but not afraid to step into the physical role. While he is not much of scorer, he has shown flashes of skill throughout his career and should provide enough spark in the bottom six.
Along with Glass, Pittsburgh resigned tough guy and AHL resident Steve MacIntyre. MacIntyre only played a dozen games at the NHL level, but is a league wide respected fighter. He will be used specifically as a call up guy for situational games and injuries.
Even though Pittsburgh had already compiled a strong list of young defenders, they felt the need to grab Pittsburgh native Dylan Reese from the New York Islander organization. Reese, 27, has appeared in 74 NHL games over his career, but carries a specific skill set that will allow him to flourish in Pittsburgh. He is a smooth skating two way player that is steady in his own end, but quick enough on the outlet pass to add into Pittsburgh’s rush system. This was another pure depth move as Pittsburgh is building their young defensive core for the future.
- On the remaining free agents
Everyone seems to be interested in Zach Parise this season and everyone is seemingly ready to pony up large amounts of cash for his play. Pittsburgh has in mind that Parise can finally be the winger for Sidney Crosby. Parise would bring a strong partner for Crosby as both are very strong in the cycle game and difficult to take the puck away from down low. If in fact Parise does sign with Pittsburgh, it would most likely end their spending spree. For cap reasons now, they have plenty of room to add another free agent, but the new CBA could change that. If the new CBA brings the cap down, the Penguins could only have roughly 10 Million in remaining space.
The other name being bounced around is Ryan Suter. While Suter is a hot commodity, his play might not be exactly what Pittsburgh is in need of. Suter is the perfect compliment player. If any team has a big bodied defenseman, Suter can instantly turn him into a top pairing. So there is the problem with the Penguins. They do not have a large bodied defenseman who really allows Suter to play his game. In all honesty, Suter would be best suited playing with Weber next season or pairing with the struggling Jonathan Ericson in Detroit.
- On the Trades
It seemed as if Paul Martin was on his way out of Pittsburgh just a few a days ago. His poor playoff performance showed that his presence might no longer be needed. As of today Paul Martin is a big piece in bringing Parise to Pittsburgh. The former teammate of Parise has done just as much politicking on this issue as Sidney Crosby. If in fact the Penguins do not acquire Parise, Paul Martin could be back on the trade block.
For teams that miss out on Carle and Suter, Martin could provide a two way style that teams desire. His cap hit of 5 million is comparative to what Carle is expected to receive on the open market and Pittsburgh would be willing to trade him for a top 6 winger. Because of this, there are a few teams that could have the need, as well as the pieces, to make this trade.
One source has stated that St.Louis was in the running for such a defenseman. The recent signing of Jeff Woywitka does not pose a threat to this trade as Woywitka is consider a bottom pairing/AHL call up. The Blues would be able to add Martin for forward Chris Stewart. The big bodied winger has struggled since joining St.Louis, but has showed in an open system like Colorado that he can skate well and score. He would become a good backup signing if Pittsburgh is not able to land Parise.
One other team that has shown some interest in Paul Martin is the Nashville Predators. With the possible loss of Suter on the horizon, the Predators would need a top 4 guy and Paul Martin fits the billing. His smooth skating and breakout ability would become an excellent complement to the bruiser Weber. In return, however, it still is unknown what could possibly come back to Pittsburgh as Nashville has lost forward Alexander Radulov to the KHL.
There are still a lot of unknowns in free agency and in the next few days, the proverbial dominoes will be set to fall. Once Parise and Suter make their decisions, the NHL will be in a frenzy to sign the next best replacement. There is hope in Pittsburgh that this frenzy can be avoided, but if not, the pieces are still in place to make a move.