By: Casey Shea

The summer of 2012 has been rather eventful for the Penguins, but there are still plenty of questions lingering as we head into the second week of July.

Gone are Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek via trades at the NHL Draft last month.

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Their return on both deals included several defensive prospects and center Brandon Sutter.

The deals freed up cap space and led many to believe that the Penguins were going to take serious runs at free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

As it turns out, both Parise and Suter took some time to look over their offers and both elected to sign with the Minnesota Wild this week.

Here’s my issue in all of this so far.

Would Parise have been a great addition to the team? Absolutely, there’s no denying that. Having the top two lines consist of Parise, Crosby, James Neal and Evgeni Malkin would have been downright scary.

However, a lack of goal scoring didn’t keep the Penguins from advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs this year. No team in the league scored more goals than the Penguins during the regular season.

Scoring wasn’t the problem. Keeping the puck out of the Penguins’ net was.

I didn’t have a problem with the Penguins going after Suter even though it appears as if Suter never had any intention of playing in the Eastern Conference. You had to take a shot at him.

The Penguins also had to take a chance at Parise too, but while they were awaiting a decision, other viable options were signing deals.

Someone like Bryan Allen would have been a fantastic addition to the blue line. He signed in Anaheim for three years at $3.5 million per season. How cap friendly would that deal have been for the Penguins?

Jason Garrison was another guy that I would not have minded to see in black and gold, but he signed a six-year, $27.6 million deal with the Vancouver Canucks.

Were these guy even on the Penguins’ radar? I don’t know, but their inactivity while awaiting word from the Parise camp suggests this was an all eggs in one basket approach.

With each passing day, the likelihood of a trade to fill holes seems more and more likely.

The Penguins are absolutely loaded with defensive prospects for this exact situation, but don’t expect Ray Shero to just give them up for nothing.

Most Penguins fans want to see the team find a way to dump Paul Martin. While I do agree with this sentiment, there is the possibility that he just had a terrible year and will bounce back.

I think he would be the first to admit he played the worst hockey of his career last year. Most people tend to refocus and regroup in that kind of a situation.

Believe me, I’m kind of stunned I’m even saying that myself, but if he’s still on the team in October, it’s the mentality I’m going to need to go in with.

During the Parise waiting game, Steve Sullivan signed a deal with the Phoenix Coyotes, which leaves another gap to fill up front.

All of a sudden now that the Penguins didn’t land Parise, there’s the sentiment that they are going to trade for Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan.

Honestly, I’m not sure either one gets done, but if I had a choice, it would be Ryan without a doubt. He’s younger and his cap hit is $2.7 million less than Nash as well.

Ryan is making $5.1 million and is signed through the 2014-15 season, whereas Nash is making $7.8 million through the 2017-18 season.

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The asking price for both is going to be high for sure, but the Penguins do have plenty in the farm that could be intriguing to other clubs.

There are still some options available on the free agent market that I wouldn’t mind seeing the Pens take a chance on for the right price.

For example, Peter Mueller, formerly of the Colorado Avalanche, could be a great fit alongside Crosby.

Injuries have been a problem for Mueller, who missed the entire 2010-11 season with a concussion. He only played 32 games for the Avalanche last season, but recorded seven goals and nine assists in a limited role.

As a rookie in 2006-07, he burst onto the scene with the Coyotes with 22 goals and 32 assists.

I give full credit to Brian Metzer for carrying the torch on this campaign. If he stays healthy, and that could be a very big if, he’s got the skillset to play alongside Crosby and do well.

One name that seems to be resonating in some circles is Alexander Semin. My only question is why?

Sure he has talent, but this is the same guy who came out and said “What’s so special about Crosby?” during an interview a few years ago.

Could that have just been a product of the Capitals/Penguins rivalry? It’s possible, but my reasoning for not wanting him in Pittsburgh goes beyond some comments to the media.

In 469 career games all with Washington, Semin has 197 goals and 211 assists for 408 points. That’s not a bad resume on paper.

In 51 playoff games, Semin has 15 goals and 19 assists. However, over the last three playoff campaigns, Semin has played in 30 games and has just seven goals and five assists.

There’s a notion about him disappearing in big games as well.

Sure he has talent and seems like he could be a fit with Crosby, but he also appears to be the type of player who only plays at 100 percent when he feels like it.

That’s not the type of player the Penguins need in their locker room.

Regardless, it’s only July 7. Opening night is still several months away.

Has Shero missed an opportunity by appearing to go all-in on Parise? Perhaps, but he had to know going in that this situation he finds himself in was a distinct possibility.

However, calling for Shero to be fired as some fans are, is asinine. Free agency opened less than a week ago. There is more than ample time for Shero to fill the holes this team has at the moment.

I understand fans want to see the other half of the grand plan come into focus after trading Staal and Michalek. However, before you decide to go jump off one of the many bridges around town, just remember that these things take a while.

I am fully confident that the Penguins as a whole are sitting down and plotting their next move.

When will that move come? Your guess is as good as mine, but it most assuredly will come.

Stay tuned.


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