Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Pittsburgh Penguins.
Last season didn’t turn out quite how GM Ray Shero intended. Sure, the Penguins made it to the Eastern Conference finals, but his veteran acquisitions that pushed the team “all in” (Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, Jarome Iginla) all lost a step against a hungrier Boston Bruins team.
For many teams, making it to the conference finals is a major accomplishment. For the Penguins, it was a let down. Sidney Crosby saw his health factor into the end of their season, although thankfully not a concussion. Smashed out teeth thanks to a deflected puck made for a gorier scene.
Goaltending went from being a strength to one of controversy thanks to Marc-Andre Fleury falling apart in the playoffs only to be supplanted by Tomas Vokoun. How Fleury bounces back this season will be a huge factor in whether the Pens are Stanley Cup contenders or pretenders.
Shero tried giving the team the veteran presence he thought was needed for coach Dan Bylsma during the season, but each of Morrow (unsigned), Murray (Montreal), and Iginla (Boston) won’t be back this season.
Also not returning to Pittsburgh is Matt Cooke (Minnesota) and that may work out to be better from a PR standpoint, but the Pens penalty kill will suffer for it. They also traded Tyler Kennedy to San Jose during the NHL Draft.
The team paid up big to extend Kris Letang and to retain Pascal Dupuis. Craig Adams also re-upped on a new deal. Rob Scuderi returned after four seasons and a second Stanley Cup in Los Angeles. Shero admitted letting him get away then was a mistake.
Their other free agent pick-ups weren’t exactly ones that will blow you away. Forwards Matt D’Agostini and Andrew Ebbett along with defenseman Brendan Mikkelson will help fill out ranks.
The goal is the Stanley Cup once again and with (stop me if you’ve heard this before) a fully healthy Crosby and Evgeni Malkin they’ll be threats to do so.