Undoubtedly, the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they sit right now, have a pretty formidable team. However, after reviewing their current roster, there is still room to improve their team by adding either a top-6 forward or an upgrade on the blue line.
Ray Shero's first option could be to add player already in the system to the regular roster to fill these two holes. At forward, the only real NHL ready candidate is winger Eric Tangradi. At 6'4" 221 lbs, the 23-year-old prototypical power-forward has performed at a high level in a top-6 role in his career. In his final season with the OHL's Bellevue Bulls, Tangradi recorded 38 goals and 50 assists in 55 games, and in his two seasons with the baby Pens, he's racked up 35 goals and 37 assists in 107 games. On defense, the options are a little more plentiful. Top candidates include Simon Depres, Brian Strait, Pittsburgh native Dylan Reese, and Boston College product Brian Dumoulin, acquired in the Jordan Staal trade.
The second option for Shero is to add a piece via trade. While a trade for Anaheim's Bobby Ryan or Columbus' Rick Nash is still a possibility, I'm not convinced the Pens could give up the pieces necessary to bring in either of those players and be in a better situation because of it. While a trade isn't out of the question, I've learned never to doubt Ray Shero's ability to pull off unthinkable trades after the James Neal and Marian Hossa deals, it seams unlikely to me.
The final option is to add a player via free agency. After looking over the list of available UFAs, here are my top 10 players that could help the Pens if the price is right:
10. Nik Hagman -F, 31 years old (2011-12 stats: 71GP 9G 14A -7) -- Although Hagman has had a few sub-par seasons, he did post three consecutive 20 goal seasons from 2006-09 with Stars and Maple Leafs. Perhaps playing alongside Sidney Crosby could rejuvenate his career.
9. Carlo Colaiacovo -D, 29 years old (2011-12 stats: 64GP 2G 17A +7) -- Colaiacovo had a nice season with the Blues and could provide the Pens with a solid bottom-6 defensemen and point presence on the 2nd powerplay unit.
8. Kyle Wellwood -F, 29 years old (2011-12 stats: 77GP 18G 29A +3) -- Wellwood had a nice season with the Jets in 2011-12, and the versatile forward could be nice fit on the Crosby/Dupuis line.
7. Mark Flood -D, 28 years old (2011-12 stats: 33GP 3G 4A -1) -- Flood emerged with the Jets played well in a limited role. He could be an inexpensive option to try on the blue line.
6. Scott Hannan -D, 32 years old (2011-12 stats: 78GP 2G 10A -10) -- Hannan, a physical stay-at-home defense, could be a nice fit with the Penguins stable of offensively minded blue-liners.
5. Brett Clark -D, 35 years old (2011-12 stats: 82GP 2G 13A -26) -- Although Clark had a down year with the under-achieving Lightning, his durability has never been question. He's played in at least 57 games in each of his last 7 NHL seasons. Perhaps a change of scenery could help Clark return to form in 2012-13.
4. Alex Semin - F, 28 years old (2011-12 stats: 77GP 21G 33A +9) -- Character is an issue for this former 40 goal scorer, but if the price is right, this uber-talented winger could find a home in Pittsburgh.
3. Matt Gilroy -D, 28 years old (2011-12 stats: 67GP 3G 17A +2) -- The 2009 Hobey Baker Award Winner had breakout season with the Sens. He could be a positive addition to the Pens powerplay and in top-4 defensive role.
2. Jamie Langenbrunner -F, 36 years old (2011-12 stats: 70GP 6G 18A +7) -- This former Stanley Cup champ had a productive season with the St. Louis Blues, and although it seems likely that he'll re-up with the Blues in 2012, he could provide the Pens and Sidney Crosby a veteran presence in their top 6.
1. Shane Doan -F, 36 years old (2011-12 stats: 79GP 22G 28A -8) -- If the situation in Phoenix is not resolved soon, Doan could be on the move. A gritty, determined power forward, Doan could provide the same kind of spark Bill Guerin gave the Pens in '09 should he choose to leave the Coyotes.
Here's my list...what do you think??