Originally posted on The Pensblog  |  Last updated 6/29/12
Free agency is always bat **** crazy. But when your team has a little under 15 million to spend. Hold on to your butt. Here is our guide to the 2012 Free Agency class, and what we think the the Penguins will do.   First things first. Free Agency starts 12pm on Sunday. Coverage will be on the NHL network.   Now the details for the Penguins. Lets start with cap space.   As the above states, the Penguins will begin free agency with 14.5 million.   According to JB at the Citizen's Voice the Penguins have qualified the follow players:   Robert Bortuzzo Alex Grant Matt Niskanen Carl Sneep Brian Strait Eric Tangradi Keven Veilleux   Niskanen is a lock on the Pens roster, but that is it. Bortuzzo and Strait will most likely have to earn their spots, and as for Tangradi who knows.   So, it is our assumption:   Pens will go after two forwards, and one defense   Why? Sullivan, Asham will most likely walk. The depth in the forward department isn't great. Top six wingers right now: James Neal Pascal Dupuis Chris Kunitz   That's it. Sorry TK is not a top six winger.   OFFENSE   The Plan   Sign Zach Parise somewhere in the neighborhood of 7.5 million a year.   Parise's stats:   Parise is an elite forward, that plays a relentless style and can snipe. If he gets paired with Sidney Crosby, Parise becomes an immediate 40 goal, 40 assist player.   Signing Parise gives the Pens some options. You might not even need another high-end winger. But whatever the Pens don't sign Parise?     The Back-up Plan   P.A. Parenteau   Parenteau's stats: Parenteau could be a steal, or he could end up being an overpaid joke.   As Pierre Lebrun noted:
But Parenteau is an underrated player, one that has flown under the radar because he plied his trade on Long Island. You might argue he boosted his point total only because he played with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. But you could also argue Parenteau’s playmaking abilities helped Tavares and Moulson find the back of the net. 
    Parenteau may get something like 4 or 5 million which is somewhat insane.    Other forwards:   Alex Semin   No no no no no no no no no no no no ::::::::::::::::::::::   Shane Doan Giant baby.    ::::::::::::::::::::::::   Dustin Penner   Penner was a nightmare last season, but we're sure Kings fan don't care. He scored the OT goal to send the Kings to the cup. Guy could be a 30 goal scored, but this is probably back-up plan version 50 for Shero.   Mike Knuble   What a player. Knuble is 39 years old so this would be his last ride.   Cannot remember where it was, but we def remember Bylsma saying he called Knuble when he was a free agent last time and tried to get him to come to Pittsburgh.   ::::::::::::::   Jordan Tootoo     Tootoo may come cheap, and Ray Shero is probably very familiar with him. He could be a replacement after Matt Cooke's contract expires.     ::::::::::   Summary:  If the Penguins lose out on Parise they may turn to a trade.    Mike Colligan wrote a really good piece on why the Penguins should consider a guy like Chris Stewart:  
In Rutherford’s article, Hithcock confirmed he’s looking for a specific skillset in any defenseman they bring in: “Whoever we find there has to be a player that can help [Pietrangelo] move the puck. Their ability to exit the zone quickly is going to be really important.” That’s funny. The Blues need a left-handed, top-four veteran defenseman who can skate and make a solid breakout pass? And Shero happens to be receiving calls on Paul Martin, who played well enough in New Jersey’s defensively-responsible system to secure a $25 million dollar deal on the open market? That could be a good starting point. If the Penguins can’t land Parise, going after Stewart makes sense.
    So with that, lets look at the Defense.   DEFENSE Ryan Suter is the number one target, or at least that is what everyone is saying. What we do know is that the chips will fall around Suter. But this all depends on the price. Is Ryan Suter really worth 6-7 million a year? Because that may be the market. The Penguins literally have like 12,000 defenseman. They traded Michalek away for basically nothing, a strange move because Shero covets NHL defenseman. So that move was calculated and driven by something.   Let's look past Suter, and look at three more realistic options:   Matt Carle     Carle is mobile, and he can move the puck. He is like a younger Paul Martin who doesn't play like vomit. If there is anyone in this free agent class that could fit in really well in the Penguins system, it would be Matt Carle.     Bryan Allen   We were hoping the Pens would make a play for Allen at the trade deadline. Allen is a shutdown D, and he'll hit. He'd be a perfect top-4 fit in. Probably could get a reasonable contract out of it too.     Greg Zanon   Zanon is another tough d guy.  He didn't overly impress in Boston, but the Pens could find room for him. He isn't a guy that is going to get a whole lot of cash, and with the Pens up and coming D they don't need a long term deal here.     ::::::::::: Summary:   If Suter can be had for the right number, do it. But teams like the Red Wings may go as high as 8-10 million. The Pens have major defense on the way, wouldn't it be more logical to get a stop gag until then? Guess we are about to find out.  
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