Finally, a team I enjoy writing a season preview for. Being a Penguins fan my whole life, the struggles of the early 2000’s have finally accumulated into happiness (talking to you Rags and Flyers fans). This past season has been a year for me to enjoy watching this team beginning to end. The only question moving forward is how can this team repeat…again? This off-season the Penguins figured out major decisions by resigning Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz, and Conor Sheary. To go along with that, and to solve the backup goaltending situation, they got a once quality starter in Antti Niemi for a dime on the dollar at $700K. With limited playing time behind 2-time Stanley cup champion, should have been rookie of the year (I may be a little biased) Matt Murray look for Niemi to be a top backup in the league. Looking at this roster, one spot sticks out like a sore thumb. The situation at 3rd line center. As of right now, their should be 4th line center, Carter Rowney is in that spot, while Greg McKegg is anchoring the 4th line. There has been plenty of talks between the Pens and Red Wings to bring 25-year-old Riley Sheahan over to the Steel City and maybe sending a player like Derrick Pouliot (23-years-old defenseman) could be sent Detroit’s way. This could sure up that third line vacancy left by Nick Bonino. This is a strong Penguins team that is not in an absolute cap crunch anymore. This, shall I say, be one more year of another deep postseason run for the Pens. From top to bottom, looking at all the analytics of each individual player, and goaltender, nothing makes it hard to say that the Pens can three-peat. Couple this with an angry Crosby on not winning the Hart trophy, watch out NHL.
Not too much to talk about here, yes, the Pens got Ryan Reeves (I stopped asking questions about this decision) and Matt Hunwick who is just a replacement for a lost Ron Hainsey.
The BIGGEST addition to the team this season is the newly found cap space from losing Kunitz in free agency and the Flower to Vegas. This pushes their cap space back to around 2.5 Million dollars which is enough to sure up that 3rd line center situation
Kris Letang: He is finally back and looking healthy like before. Expect Kris Letang to go back to Norris Trophy form and with the deadly power play the Penguins have, expect Letang to exceed over 60 points this next season
Jake Guentzel: After a historic, record-breaking post season, Guentzel can excel in his first full NHL season. Do not be surprised to see 25 goals and over 65 points playing with either Crosby or Malkin this is not a far reach whatsoever.
Sidney Crosby: Bold prediction, Crosby will come in 2nd in the Rocket Richard race (behind Laine), but he WILL win the Hart trophy this season. He does not like someone coming into the league and stealing his trophies away.
111 Points, First in Metro, First in Eastern Conference