NHL Rumors: Ranking Ryan Suter and Best UFA Options for Pittsburgh Penguins

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIJune 30, 2012

NHL Rumors: Ranking Ryan Suter and Best UFA Options for Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Over the past week or so, rumors have been heating up regarding the Pittsburgh Penguins and what they'll do with their new-found cap space on Sunday.

    I've written a few articles myself on who the Penguins should and should not consider signing over the past few days and thought it would be a good idea to rank which moves the Pens should pursue in terms of what would be better for their organization.

    It's been no secret that I am not a huge fan of the idea of Pittsburgh signing Zach Parise and that I've advocated for the Penguins to pursue the services of Shane Doan, Ryan Suter and even Bobby Ryan via trade.

    Now it's time to see which players are most important to the future of the Pens.

    Here are the five players, ranked in order, that the Penguins should pursue this weekend.

5. Zach Parise

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    Yes, I know, Zach Parise is the top free-agent forward on the market in 2012.

    Heck, some believe that the Pens are even the front-runners to acquire the Minneapolis native's services.

    Problem is, assuming the Penguins want to keep Evgeni Malkin around at the same price Sidney Crosby signed for ($8.7 million), Parise would be the third forward likely eating up over $7 million of the Pens' cap space.

    Throw in James Neal and Pittsburgh will have created a nice little cap problem for themselves when it comes time to re-sign defensemen Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang.

    Not to mention, Parise may be coveted by some, but let's keep in mind that the Devils captain has only managed to tally more than 70 points twice in his career.

    Besides, at this point, Pittsburgh's main need is on the blue line after they dealt away veteran blueliner Zbynek Michalek.

    While it may be the popular thing to do, Ray Shero would be wise to step away from the negotiations with Parise.

4. Matt Carle

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    Matt Carle is my wild-card pick for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    While he did just spend time playing for the Penguins' in-state rival Philadelphia Flyers, we have seen players cross the state before (see Talbot, Maxime).

    Carle would be a huge addition for the Penguins, especially if they are unable to land All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter.

    Carle has had a good deal of recent success, managing at least 35 points in each of the last three seasons, while posting a combined player rating of plus-53 over that span.

    Not to mention, how sweet would it be for Pittsburgh to nab one of Philly's better players a year after they snagged Max Talbot from right underneath them?

    Can you say vindication?

3. Bobby Ryan

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    A better option on the wing for the Pens could be disgruntled Ducks youngster Bobby Ryan.

    It's become apparent that the 25-year-old Cherry Hill, N.J. native wants out of Anaheim and wouldn't mind a move home to Philadelphia.

    If the Pens could find a way to swoop in and snag Ryan, though, it would not only keep a perennial 30-goal scorer from going to a division and bitter rival, but it would also give the Penguins another great option on the wing themselves.

    Ryan is a younger, cheaper, bigger and less banged-up version of Zach Parise, who is under contract for three more years and comes at a cost of about $2 million per season less.

    If the Pens didn't have to move assets in order to acquire Ryan, he'd be contending for the top spot on this list.

2. Shane Doan

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    In what has been one of the more shocking bits of news surrounding NHL free agency, Coyotes captain and the longtime face of their organization, Shane Doan, could be calling a new place home come Sunday.

    The 35-year-old Alberta native has managed to put together quite a career, reaching the 60-point plateau in a season six times, while leading his team to a Western Conference finals appearance this year before they'd lose to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings.

    Doan could provide an excellent veteran presence in the Pittsburgh locker room and would still be a key contributor offensively for the Pens.

    He would also come a lot cheaper than some other options and sign to a shorter term.

    All in all, he'd be an excellent option for Pittsburgh.

1. Ryan Suter

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    Along with Zach Parise, Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter is probably the most sought-after free agent on the market this offseason.

    As a result, he will probably also command a price tag in the $7 million region, similar to Parise.

    So why should the Pens splurge on Suter and not Parise?

    Simple.

    First off, Suter fills Pittsburgh's voids more effectively than Parise.

    Right now, Pittsburgh needs a defenseman more than offensive player, especially now that they've dealt away veteran defenseman Zbynek Michalek.

    Suter is also a jack of all trades who can be a shutdown defender, punishing checker, offensive contributor, power-play quarterback and penalty-killing specialist.

    If Pittsburgh is going to splurge and use a sizable chunk of their $14 million in cap space on one player, they'd be wise to make that player Ryan Suter.

    Luckily for fans, it seems as though GM Ray Shero feels the same way.