Penguins not done making moves yet
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 Penguins won’t consider signing a player to a salary higher than Crosby’s, and they will not front-load deals to lure free agents.
The Penguins are aggressively shopping defenseman Paul Martin. His contract, which has three years and $15 million remaining, must be shed to make a serious run for Suter and Parise.
Trades of Staal (to Carolina) and defenseman Zbynek Michalek (to Phoenix) on Day 1 of the draft opened $6 million in annual salary-cap space for the Penguins. They are nearly $15 million under the projected $70 million upper limit for next season, pending terms of a new collective bargaining agreement.
Though defense is the organizational strength at the prospect level, including four defensemen selected in the first two rounds of the most recent drafts, the Penguins crave a top-pairing partner for Letang.
Suter is the target, though there are contingencies to add a defenseman this offseason — most likely via trade — if the Penguins fail. They are open to including defensive prospect Simon Despres in a potential deal to land a top-shelf defenseman.