Pittsburgh Penguins: Why Signing Ryan Suter Is Smarter Than Signing Zach Parise

Adam RickertAnalyst IIJune 23, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 29:  Ryan Suter #20 of the Nashville Predators in action during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 29, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Predators 5-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Penguins are obviously preparing for a big move in free agency. Last night, they traded Jordan Staal to Carolina for defensive-minded center Brandon Sutter, a draft pick, and a prospect. They also went on to trade defenseman Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix for a draft pick, and are looking to trade defenseman Paul Martin.

These trades would clear up a lot of cap space for the team to be able to make a big splash in free agency, and some are suggesting that they could be going after Zach Parise.

Out of all the teams in the NHL, I would have to say that Pittsburgh is the least in need of Parise's services.

They led the league in goals in 2012 by somewhat of a wide margin even without their captain Sidney Crosby for about three quarters of the season, and then were trounced in the first round because of their lack of defense.

Some could see it coming: the Penguins averaged about four goals against per game in their last two weeks of the regular season. For a Stanley Cup favorite, that's just a bit too much.

As the Los Angeles Kings showed this year and the Boston Bruins last year, defense and goaltending are essential to winning championships. If your team is easily the best offensive team, but struggles defensively, why spend $8 million a year on more offense?

That's what the Penguins would do by signing Zach Parise.

What makes this even worse for the defense is that the now-Hurricane Jordan Staal is arguably the best penalty killer in hockey, and since Pittsburgh is usually near the top of the league in penalty minutes, the absence of Staal as a defensive presence could really hurt them.

Also, they already traded away Zbynek Michalek and are looking to trade Paul Martin. Both of these players were top-four defensemen for the Penguins.

They did get Brandon Sutter in return from the Staal trade, but the fact is that they still need defense more than ever and have absolutely no need for more offense of any kind.

With the extra money that the Penguins have gained from these trades, the smartest player to spend it on would be Ryan Suter, who is the top defenseman on the free agent market. Suter was one of the top players at Nashville this past season and was the reason that it was their most successful regular season in history.

He would be a huge defensive upgrade to the Penguins, who obviously need defense more than Zach Parise's offense, and would immediately improve the team as a whole drastically.

Some, like me, say that Suter's offensive numbers may be skewed because he played with Shea Weber, who is one of the best defensemen in hockey.

If Suter goes to Pittsburgh, does it really matter? Does Pittsburgh need yet another person who can score? Not exactly.

Even if Suter doesn't put up the same kind of numbers that he did with Nashville, he would be a huge asset to the team because he can play defense, and that's all that should matter to the Penguins.

The problem with signing Suter, however, is that he has stated that he does not want to sign with an Eastern Conference team, and will most likely end up signing with Detroit or re-signing with the Predators if he can't find any better deals.

Nevertheless, he would be a terrific addition to the Penguins, and would fit the team's needs better than any other free agent. Parise, on the other hand, is one of the league's elite players, but his skills are not what the team needs to spend $8 million or less on.