After shedding Jordan Staal's contract by trading him over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Penguins plan to "go nuclear" with a large chunk of salary cap room and target both forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter in free agency, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Sunday.
Parise and Suter are widely considered the top two free agents on the market, and the top players available at their respective positions. The Penguins want both of them, and they are prepared to use captain Sidney Crosby as their pitchman. From Rob Rossi's report:
In the wake of the Jordan Staal trade Friday, the Penguins have identified their nucleus as Crosby, reigning league MVP and scoring champ Evgeni Malkin, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, winger James Neal and defenseman Kris Letang.
Fleury, 27, is the oldest of those players. Neal and Crosby, both 24, are the youngest.
Any deals by the Penguins to add Suter, 27, and Parise, 28, would be made with the idea of keeping Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Neal and Letang through at least the expiration of Fleury’s contract in three years.
The report added that with the trades of Staal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek, the Penguins now have about $15 million in projected cap room for next season. Crosby is expected to sign an extension soon that will pay him between $9 million and $10 million annually, and the Penguins reportedly will not pay any player more than their captain.
Their selling points for Parise: His wish to play for a championship contender and his longtime friendship with Crosby. Parise, though, did just advance to the Stanley Cup Finals with the New Jersey Devils, while the Penguins bowed out in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. The Tribune-Review notes that oddsmakers favor the Penguins next season, however. Their selling point for Suter: He would be in less of the spotlight in Pittsburgh than he was in with the Nashville Predators, with Crosby and Malkin handling many of the off-ice duties.