When the Pittsburgh Penguins traded center Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes and defenseman Zbynek Michalek to the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL draft weekend, the anticipation was GM Ray Shero was clearing cap space to take a run at pending free agent left winger Zach Parise or blueliner Ryan Suter.
Entering July, Shero had nearly $10 million in cap space and it was thought the opportunity to play with superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on a Penguins team considered a Stanley Cup favorite would provide serious enticement to Parise or Suter.
The pair, however, stunned the hockey world by signing with the Minnesota Wild, leaving Shero to seek other options.
Shero reportedly has interest in Phoenix Coyotes free agent right winger Shane Doan. Though Doan has yet to visit Pittsburgh to meet with Shero, the Penguins are believed to be on the veteran’s short list of preferred destinations.
In late July, the Ottawa Sun reported the Penguins were prepared to offer Doan a four-year, $24-million contract (annual cap hit of $6 million), but nearly three weeks later there’s nothing from either side to suggest any offer had been made.
Even if the Penguins made that pitch, it falls well short of the rumored four-year, $30-million deal (worth $7.5 million per) from an unnamed Eastern Conference club.
Other organizations with serious interest in Doan include the New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers, all of which he visited several weeks ago, meaning the Penguins have serious competition for Doan’s services.
That’s assuming Doan’s willing to part ways with the Coyotes, which thus far he’s shown reluctance to do, still hoping the club will be sold to prospective buyer Greg Jamison, who would keep them in their current location.
If Doan falls out of the picture for the Pens, Shero could turn his focus toward the trade market, where rumors persist Anaheim Ducks right winger Bobby Ryan is available.
Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently took to Twitter to suggest now might be the time to strike if the Penguins have any interest in Ryan.
The Flyers are believed to have pursued Ryan earlier this summer, but Yohe believes their need to bolster their depleted defense corps could take them out of the running.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun recently claimed the word from “league executives” was Ducks GM Bob Murray hadn’t given a definitive asking price for Ryan.
Anaheim’s recent trade of Lubomir Visnovsky to the New York Islanders (currently under contention by the defenseman), along with losing top prospect Justin Schultz to the Edmonton Oilers via free agency, has some observers believing Murray would want at least a good, young NHL blueliner as part of any return for Ryan.
If so, there’s not much the Penguins could offer up to entice Murray. They’re not parting with Kris Letang and the Ducks GM isn’t likely to find Paul Martin’s $5-million cap hit palatable, provided he were willing to waive his limited no-trade clause.
Matt Niskanen, 25, had a bounce-back performance last season and recently signed an affordable two-year, $4.6-million contract, but he alone, or packaged with picks and prospects, wouldn’t be enough for Ryan. Other clubs with blueline depth could make more attractive offers.
In the past, Shero has displayed the ability to make surprising trades that, more often than not, have bolstered his club. One shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of his swinging a deal to secure a scoring winger before the start of the upcoming season. But it’s now mid-August, training camps are slated to open in a month, and the current collective bargaining negotiations are putting a damper on the plans of a number of teams.
If Shero is planning a bold move to land a scoring winger, it might have to wait until the implementation of a new CBA.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla’s Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.