It’s Pittsburgh Penguins day on PHT

47 Comments

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.

Offseason recap

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.

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

blackhawks
Harry How/Getty Images
13 Comments

CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

Getty Images
3 Comments

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.