Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin

Offseason Report: Pittsburgh Penguins

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From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.

2011-12 season

51-25-6, 108 points. 4th in Eastern Conference. Second in the Atlantic Division, fourth in the Eastern Conference. Lost to Philadelphia (4-2) in the first round.

Additions

Brandon Sutter, Tanner Glass, Benn Ferriero, Warren Peters, Dylan Reese, Tomas Vokoun, Brian Dumoulin, Jeff Zatkoff

Departures

Jordan Staal, Zbynek Michalek, Steve Sullivan, Brent Johnson, Cal O’Reilly

2012 Draft

1st Round, 8th overall — Derrick Pouliot (Portland – WHL), 22nd overall — Olli Maatta (London – OHL)

Looking back

What was shaping up to be a monster playoffs for the Penguins turned into a monstrous failure. Pittsburgh looked like world beaters heading into the playoffs and facing off with a Flyers team that struggled with keeping teams off the scoreboard, things were shaping up well for the Pens. Instead, Marc-Andre Fleury turned into a sieve while the Pens couldn’t stop the Flyers from scoring goals at will before losing in six games in the first round. The Pens defense looked rough and Fleury had an all-time terrible first round of the postseason getting lit up by Philly. Yes, they have the league MVP in Evgeni Malkin as well as the league’s best player in Sidney Crosby, but unless they figure out the rest, they’ll have questions.

Looking forward

It’s tough to be down on a team that has, arguably, the two best players in the league in Malkin and Crosby, but the Penguins haven’t done much to improve themselves in the offseason. As it stands, the Pens’ forward units will be the same despite a few subtractions. Gone is Steve Sullivan and in his place is, perhaps, young forward Eric Tangradi.

Pittsburgh is trying to lure Shane Doan to town, but with him hopeful to stay in Phoenix, banking on him coming to town is a badrisky idea. As it is, Pittsburgh will hope to see continued big seasons from Chris Kunitz and James Neal while getting more from Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis. Oh yeah, Pittsburgh’s defense needs to somehow be better while not adding anyone either. While Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik are solid, guys like Paul Martin and Matt Niskanen will have more asked from them as well as a slew of young blue liners. At least things in goal are solid now that Tomas Vokoun is there to make sure Fleury stays focused on the job at hand. At the very least, the Pens have GM Ray Shero handling things and coach Dan Bylsma locking it down on the field.

Have your say

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of the Penguins’ 2012-13 outlook in the comments section.

Devils’ Merrill undergoes shoulder surgery, out four months

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 04: Jon Merrill #7 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Detroit Red Wings at the Prudential Center on January 4, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Red Wings defeated the Devils 1-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New Jersey d-man Jon Merrill, who struggled through an injury-riddled campaign, has undergone successful shoulder surgery with an expected recovery time of four months, the club announced on Wednesday.

Merrill, 24, only appeared in 47 games this year, first missing time with an arm injury, then suffering a shoulder ailment late in the year.

There was no clear indication if the two ailments were related, but Merrill’s arm injury was on the right side, and surgery was on his right shoulder.

A former University of Michigan standout taken 38th overall in 2010, Merrill enjoyed solid rookie and sophomore campaigns in New Jersey. His second year was especially solid — 14 points in 66 games, averaging over 20 minutes per night — and he boasts good size, going 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.

Based on the four-month timetable for recovery, Merrill will likely miss parts of New Jersey’s training camp and preseason action.

Max Talbot mulling European options for next season

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After a 10-year career with over 700 games played and one Stanley Cup, Maxime Talbot could be done in the NHL.

Per RDS, Talbot — who’ll hit unrestricted free agency on July 1 — has “some options in Europe” for next season, and is contemplating a move overseas.

In his prime, Talbot was a gritty, hardworking forward with decent touch around the net. He scored double-digit goals four times, including a career-high 19 in ’11-12.

The 32-year-old split last season between Boston and its AHL affiliate in Providence, scoring seven points in 38 games at the NHL level.

Talbot did acquit himself very well with the P-Bruins — 21 points in 26 games — and has some experience playing abroad, having suited up for Finnish League club Ilves Tampere during the lockout.

Based on how things went last year in free agency, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Talbot land in Europe.

The likes of Maxim Lapierre, Curtis Glencross and Marcel Goc all failed to score NHL contracts last summer — Lapierre and Goc proceeded to sign overseas, while Glencross opted to retire.

 

Ex-‘Hawks coach Suhonen takes Austrian national team job

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13:  Thomas Raffl #5 of Austria celebrates with his teammates after Thomas Hundertpfund #27 scored a goal in the first period against Tuukka Rask #40 of Finland during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Alpo Suhonen, who became the first European-born NHL coach in over 50 years upon taking the Chicago gig in 2000, has been named the new bench boss of the Austrian men’s national team, per IIHF.com.

Suhonen, 67, takes over from former NHL defenseman Dan Ratushny, who was splitting duties between Team Austria and Lausanne of the Swiss League.

Suhonen takes over the national team at a critical juncture. Austria finished a disappointing fourth at the 2016 World Hockey Championship Division 1 tournament — meaning the country finished 20th overall. As the IIHF websites notes, that’s the worst finish for Austria in 86 years of WHC competition.

Looking forward, Austria does have a chance to make amends this summer, when it will play a series of contests to prep for Olympic qualification.

Suhonen inherits a roster with decent NHL pedigree as Thomas Vanek, Michael Raffl and Michael Grabner are all eligible to participate.

That said, Vanek was named to Team Europe’s initial 16-man roster for the World Cup of Hockey, and it remains to be seen how that will impact his national team commitments.

Datsyuk’s agent acknowledges offer from KHL’s SKA, but no deal yet

Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) celebrates his empty net goal against the Edmonton Oilers in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit Monday, March 9, 2015. Detroit won 5-2. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Gennady Timchenko, the billionaire chairman of KHL club SKA Saint Petersburg, reportedly believes there’s a “good chance” that Pavel Datsyuk will be playing for his team next season.

But according to Datsyuk’s agent, Dan Milstein, there’s only been an offer from SKA. Nothing has been signed yet. There could still be offers from other KHL teams for his client to consider.

And at any rate, Milstein insisted once again that Datysuk won’t be making any decisions until he speaks with the Detroit Red Wings in mid-June, after the 37-year-old returns from a family vacation.

Milstein passed along that update to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, plus a few other Wings reporters.

Related: Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options’