The Zach Parise sweepstakes didn’t quite work out the way Pittsburgh Penguins faithful had hoped, but with a shallow free agency pool remaining, an opportunity for a strong “Plan B” still exists.

The Penguins project to have roughly $10.5 million of cap space remaining, with a true need to fill only the scoring winger void. That’s a considerable amount of money to spend on free agents and/or trades.

Yesterday, two interesting stories surfaces; one from various media outlets suggesting that highly-skilled, yet enigmatic winger Alexander Semin was close to signing with the Penguins, and another that the Penguins and gritty, veteran forward Shane Doan are showing mutual interest.

Call me crazy, but adding Semin and Doan to a mix of forwards that already includes Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Chris Kunitz is rather exciting.

Not Parise-exciting, but exciting none-the-less.

Some may be quick to point out Doan’s age (35) and his declining skills, and many will be quick to point out Semin’s character flaws. But I say beggers can’t be choosers.

Doan and Semin represent the best of what’s left. And while that might not be what many Penguins fans want to be added to their highly-touted roster, it might have to be the reality.

The trade market, aside from big fish Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan, appears to be shallow – though a substantial trade can come out of nowhere, as we saw with the acquisition of Neal not too long ago. Regardless, adding a scoring winger via trade would require parting with one or several assets that might include promising defense prospects Simon Despres and Joe Morrow or future high draft picks.

With the way the defense looked late last season, I’m not sure trading away near-NHL-ready defenders is a good idea, even if it means adding a legitimate offensive threat.

Remember, this is the NHL’s top-scoring team of 2011-12, despite playing more than half of the season without Crosby. Adding offense surely would be a bonus, but not at the expense of defense – short-term or long-term.

But let’s be clear, signing Doan and/or Semin shouldn’t be considered an option simply because they are the best of what’s left. Instead, they should be signed because they could help the Penguins.

In Doan, the Penguins would add a veteran, a team captain, a penalty killer, a power forward, and a physical presence. He’s tough and mean. And the Penguins lacked that last season.

In Semin, the Penguins would add a proven sniper, a highly-creative winger, and a deceivingly-good defensive forward. He might just be in the top-five most skilled players in the NHL. On a line with a star center, the sky is the limit.

Alone, I’m not sure either player would be a strong fit with the Penguins. Doan doesn’t bring a ton of offense to offset a Tyler Kennedy or Pascal Dupuis on the left wing with Crosby, while Semin doesn’t provide any physicality to the mix and has a history of pro-longed slumps.

But, together, the duo might represent the best linemates Crosby has had in his young career.

Doan’s consistency and nastiness on the right side would balance out Semin’s streakiness and pure skill on the left side. With Crosby in the middle, the line could rival the Neal-Malkin-Kuntiz line. And that’s saying a lot.

Not bad for a “Plan B,” right?