Productivity around Pittsburgh is sure to be down Monday while the city awaits the decision of free agent forward Zach Parise.
As forwards go, the talent pool is going to become very shallow after Parise inks his next deal. Should he land in the likes of Minnesota, Detroit or New Jersey, Penguins' GM Ray Shero can turn directly to the trade market—specifically, Anaheim winger Bobby Ryan.
In fact, Bobby Ryan might be a better overall fit in Pittsburgh based on his cap-friendly contract and the monster deal Parise is set to receive.
Parise is the obvious target, but a few quick hits on Ryan's possible fit in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps the biggest reason Ryan would be a suitable prospect to Parise is his cap-friendly contract.
Estimates on Parise's next deal have him somewhere in the 8-10 year, $80-100 million range with the Flyers reportedly having offered Parise and Ryan Suter a pair deals exceeding 10 years and $100 million. It's also believed that Parise will be looking for a first-year signing bonus in the $12 million range with a front-loaded contract.
The market for Parise is nothing if not expensive. Pittsburgh has opened up almost $15 million in cap space with the departures of Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek, but there's no guarantee that the current $70-plus million salary cap ceiling will survive the current CBA negotiations.
Pittsburgh could save themselves considerable cap space for at least three seasons by acquiring Ryan for a cap hit which barely exceeds James Neal's $5 million salary ($5.1 million through 2014-15).
In terms of production, Ryan's point-per-game average is almost equal to Parise's.
In 332 career regular season games, Ryan has 136 goals and 123 assists, good for 259 total points. That's a .78 PPG average in parts of five seasons since 2007.
Compared to Parise's .82 PPG average (410 points in 502 games), Ryan is almost equally productive. The offset in projected salary makes the scoring battle a draw, although it's hard to project how both players' numbers might increase when playing on Sidney Crosby's wing.
Ryan is 25 years old, with three years left on his current deal. He'll be due a new contract just past the prime years of his career.
Parise will be 28 when next season begins, and the 10-years-or-more deal he's expected to sign could take him right up to or into his 40s.
The expiring CBA has taken Shero out of his comfort zone of offering relatively short-term deals to his players—Crosby's 12-year contract was by far the longest he's ever inked. Parise would be the second player to break this trend, but perhaps one of the few worth breaking it for.
Ryan would obviously require a movement of assets in a trade, but Anaheim is short on defense and no team has the depth and quality of defensive prospects to offer that Pittsburgh has.
Parise, if he signs with the Penguins, will not send such assets out the door, but will command a long-term, big-money deal that will have a lot to say about Pittsburgh salary situation in the future.
How such a deal would affect future free agents like Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury leaves much to be considered.
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