The Zach Praise sweepstakes has official begun today. The Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to be the front runners for Praise services. According Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Penguins are ready to offer Praise a 10 year deal worth between $75-80 million.
Praise, 27 years old, the best forward in this year’s free agency class by a landslide has scored 30 or more goals in five of the last six seasons. With the exception being in 2010-11 season where a knee injury limited him to 13 games.
While the Penguins are the front runners, there are other teams involved for Praise. The Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, even the New Jersey Devils are still in play for his talents. If one of these teams steal Praise away from the Penguins the fallout could be disastrous.
The Penguins want an all star forward to play with their star center Sidney Crosby. Praise is one of the best in the league and a close friend of Crosby’s. They are hoping that will be enough to reel Praise in. If it isn’t plan B would be a trade for the likes of Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan. However, the Penguins don’t have much in the trade bait that would interest those teams.
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, two teams linked to those respective players, have more to offer in terms of trade.
The next best option out there in terms of forward is Alexander Semin. Who is a big risk. While he has scoring ability, 2009-10 scoring 41 goals, you never know what type of player you are getting with Semin on a game to game basis.
Shane Doan might be a possibility, but at age 35 will he be able to keep up with the young legs of the Penguins players. After Praise there are just too many uncertainties with players. Penguins best bet is to go all in and get Praise at any cost.