The Pittsburgh Penguins are still basking in a feat of a second true Stanley Cup, yet with giveaway group in full swing, a celebrating has stopped, during slightest for a front office. General manager Jim Rutherford and manager Mike Sullivan already have set their sights on a third championship subsequent spring.
Overall, a offseason has been good for a Penguins. But there are still some concerns Pittsburgh contingency residence in sequence to put themselves in a best position to three-peat.
Here are 5 questions a Penguins contingency answer before a start of subsequent season:
1. Who will be a third-line center?
By far, this is a biggest regard for Pittsburgh relocating forward. The Penguins mislaid Nick Bonino, who signed a four-year, $16.4 million deal with a Nashville Predators (of all teams).
Rutherford done a right choice not to overpay for Bonino, yet his depart leaves a hulk hole in a Penguins lineup. Bonino centered a famous “HBK” line, that was essential to Pittsburgh’s 2016 Cup run, afterwards was a pivotal purpose actor — restraint shots, murdering penalties and personification a clever two-way diversion — in 2017.
Whether Rutherford creates a dash that large or deals for an unheralded core like Bonino was dual years ago, a Penguins presumably will give adult a wing or defender in a trade. That means this is indeed a two-part doubt — after a Penguins acquire their third-line center, a subsequent regard is what new holes did a front bureau emanate to acquire him?
2. Is Matt Cullen unequivocally going to retire?
At 40, Cullen isn’t a answer for Pittsburgh during third-line center, yet it positively would assistance a team’s core abyss if returns. Evgeni Malkin has averaged 62 games per deteriorate over a final 4 years. Depth during core is something a Penguins contingency have in sequence to equivocate a regular-season slump.
Cullen will spin 41 in November, yet he’s still a really good player. In dual seasons with a Penguins, he’s tallied 19 goals and 63 points in 154 games.
If Cullen returns, Pittsburgh can slide Carter Rowney behind to wing, where he played good during a playoffs. In a eventuality of an injury, Rowney can play one of a core spots. With a 40-year-old back, it would also start to solve this subsequent question.
3. How to urge a chastisement kill?
Pittsburgh featured a clever chastisement kill during a playoffs, yet a regular-season numbers tell a opposite story. The Penguins finished tied for 19th in a joining with a 79.8 penalty-kill percentage. That was a misfortune penalty-kill commission for a Stanley Cup champion given 1991. And that was when power-play goals were a lot some-more common.
Again, that chastisement kill softened during a playoffs, yet a odds Pittsburgh is means to navigate by a postseason again with such a bad shorthanded section is really slim.
If Cullen doesn’t return, a Penguins contingency find dual new penalty-killing centers, afterwards find other ways to urge a unit.
4. Is Derrick Pouliot ready?
Rutherford has voiced a lot of certainty in Pouliot this summer. Pittsburgh sealed 32-year-old defenseman Matt Hunwick in giveaway agency, yet Rutherford said he still expects Pouliot to make a NHL roster.
If that happens, a Penguins will have turned their porous blue line into a strength (as prolonged as Kris Letang can stay healthy). Injuries are firm to happen, though, as they have a final 3 years, so carrying Hunwick and Chad Ruhwedel as sixth and seventh defensemen will be a outrageous and if Pouliot finally can turn an NHL regular.
5. Who stairs adult as leaders in a locker room?
In further to Bonino and Cullen, Pittsburgh mislaid four-time Cup leader Chris Kunitz, maestro defensemen Ron Hainsey and Trevor Daley and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Those guys are replaceable by themselves, yet losing all of them during once is a tough tablet to swallow.
If Malkin does skip 20 games or Sidney Crosby suffers another concussion, this group no longer can demeanour toward Bonino or Cullen to beam a ship. And though Kunitz, Sullivan loses his puncture top-line wing, a proven winner who scored twice in Game 7 contra Ottawa.
In net, Matt Murray is a man, yet he can no longer count on his coach for recommendation when things aren’t going so well. And if Murray gets hurt, as he did 3 times final season, Pittsburgh contingency wish a struggling maestro netminder Antti Niemi can play good adequate to give a Penguins a possibility to win.
Finding other players to furnish during their turn is one thing, yet replacing their care in a locker room and championship knowledge is another animal.
- Suggested purpose for Niemi puts Pittsburgh in position to fail
- Pittsburgh still assured in Derrick Pouliot
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