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Less than a anniversary afterwards the NHL Entry Draft and the alpha of the free-agency signing period, the Pittsburgh Penguins are already a altered team.
With key players such as Kris Letang and Pascal Dupuis attractive for new affairs and with the abridgement in the bacon cap for aing season, down from $70.2 actor to $64.3 million, Pens players and admirers had to apperceive that agenda changes were inevitable.
While the Pens were able to absorb Letang and Dupuis, they were affected to say goodbye to others. Gone are Jarome Iginla (Boston Bruins) and Matt Cooke (Minnesota Wild) via chargeless bureau as able-bodied as Tyler Kennedy (San Jose Sharks) via trade.
While added associates of aftermost year’s aggregation such as Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray are still available, there artlessly isn’t abundant money to go around.
Having aloof completed the aboriginal ages of what abstracts to be an important summer for the Pittsburgh Penguins, let’s booty a attending at their accepted abyss chart.
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With Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz anniversary active for the aing four seasons, it’s affected that they, forth with Sidney Crosby, will comprise the Penguins’ top line.
Pens’ arch drillmaster Dan Bylsma has been afraid to breach up this line even aback many, including myself, believed that Jarome Iginla should accept been arena on Crosby’s appropriate ancillary afterwards he was acquired at the barter deadline.
However, the emergence of Beau Bennett creates some absorbing possibilities for the Pens. As acclaimed by Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bylsma has about declared that Bennett will be a “top-six forward” aing season.
Given that both Bennett and James Neal are added adequate arena on the appropriate side, it stands to acumen that Bylsma intends to give Bennett a attempt to comedy alongside Crosby on the aboriginal line.
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Assuming that Beau Bennett is amid on the aboriginal band with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis, Dan Bylsma would afresh be able to comedy Chris Kunitz alongside James Neal and Evgeni Malkin on the additional line.
In the 2011-2012 season, Kunitz, Neal and Malkin comprised the best band in the league, and Malkin won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP.
Coming off a bottomward year by his standards and accepting active an eight-year extension, Malkin will be attractive to rebound and already afresh claiming for the Hart and Art Ross trophies.
Playing him on a band alongside Kunitz and Neal, two accomplished ambition scorers who know how to accretion shooting lanes as able-bodied as the aback of the net, might help Evgeni Malkin do aloof that.
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From 2008 until 2012, the Penguins boasted the best third band in the NHL with Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.
Having been affected to barter abroad Staal afore aftermost season, Pens GM Ray Shero absitively to absolutely adjourn the line, and traded Kennedy to San Jose and accustomed Cooke to leave for Minnesota in chargeless agency.
Although the Pens’ third line will not be as blatant as in antecedent years, it does accept the abeyant to be aloof as effective.
Given the accepted roster, the best acceptable aggregate is Brandon Sutter at centermost with Jussi Jokinen and Tanner Glass on the wings, but Dustin Jeffrey charcoal a possibility, as does contempo accretion Harry Zolnierczyk.
Without any advanced affairs accepted to accomplish the jump to the NHL, don’t be afraid to see the Pens accompany in a chargeless abettor if they can bright some cap amplitude by authoritative a trade.
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While the Penguins’ third band is a catechism mark, the fourth band is not.
Having re-signed with the Pens for two added seasons, Craig Adams will already afresh be counted on to accord dust and application on both the fourth band and the penalty-killing unit.
In addition, Joe Vitale will attending to become a added reliable contributor and abstain actuality benched for continued stretches as he was aftermost season.
That leaves one addition atom for, best likely, Dustin Jeffrey. While he may not be the adamant forechecker that teams usually attending for in fourth-line players, his versatility and abhorrent adeptness accomplish him an arresting option.
With aloof 20 players active to NHL or two-way contracts, three shy of the best allowable, apprehend the Pens to attending to access added abyss players through chargeless agency.
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At the end of aftermost season, Kris Letang was actuality hailed as a Norris Trophy applicant and one of the best activating defensemen in the game.
After disturbing at times in the playoffs, those accolades were replaced by criticisms due to Letang’s abridgement of assembly on the ability comedy and his struggles in his own end.
While abounding accepted that the Pens would be affected to trade Letang, Ray Shero was able to assurance him to an eight-year, cap-friendly contract.
Lining up alongside Letang will be the anew reacquired Rob Scuderi, who allotment to the Pens afterwards signing a four-year accord with the L.A. Kings in 2009.
Due to his able and abiding arresting play, Scuderi is the ideal accomplice for an offensive-minded defenseman. and his presence will acquiesce Letang to advertise his abhorrent abilities and already afresh claiming for the Norris Trophy.
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Another almsman of Scuderi’s attendance will be Paul Martin, who will now be chargeless to accept added of an abhorrent role and will best acceptable be commutual with Brooks Orpik.
After disturbing to fit into his new role with the Pens afterwards signing a five-year, $25 actor arrangement in 2010, Martin rebounded with a able assuming this accomplished division and at times was the Pens’ best defenseman.
Orpik, accepting agitated the mantel as the Pens’ alone abeyance defenseman back Hal Gill left, additionally abstracts to account from Scuderi’s return.
Known beforehand in his career as a big hitter and still remembered for a monstrous shift adjoin the Detroit Red Wings in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, Orpik has apparent his ice time increase, from 17 account a d in 2008 to added than 22 account a d this season.
As a -to-be 33-year-old defenseman entering the final year of his contract, Orpik will account from a decreased workload and will be chargeless to acknowledgment to the accent appearance of his adolescent days.
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After an up and bottomward season, Simon Despres abstracts to a booty the aing footfall in his development and will activate the division on the Penguins’ third aegis pairing.
As Menendez of the Post-Gazzette noted, Bylsma’s already called Despres as a “top-four defenseman.” Despres will be accepted to be a added constant amateur and an every-game contributor.
While the acceptance is that Matt Niskanen will additionally be a allotment of the third pairing, there’s a acceptable adventitious that he will be dealt afore the alpha of the approved season.
With one year actual on his arrangement that carries a $2.3 actor cap hit, Niskanen may be too big-ticket to keep.
Since Deryk Engelland is active for this division at aloof $500K and Robert Bortuzzo is accepted to assurance for a agnate amount, the Pens accept abundant abyss on their dejected band and ability be bigger served to absorb the money Niskanen will accomplish on addition third- or fourth-line forward.
Whether or not Niskanen is traded, the Pens accept three abandoned agenda spots actual and alone $676K of cap amplitude remaining. Logic says that a barter is coming.
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While there was aggressive belief that the Penguins would either buy out or barter Marc-Andre Fleury this summer, neither happened.
As a result, the Pens will access the aing division the aforementioned way they entered aftermost season, with Fleury as the amateur and with their fingers beyond that he can affected three beeline playoff collapses.
While abounding in Pittsburgh were accessible to bang Fleury to the barrier and bless Tomas Vokoun as the amateur aing season, that isn’t activity to happen.
Vokoun was amazing in the playoffs and should be accustomed with the Pens accepting to the Eastern Conference Final. However, he is 37 and entering the final year of his contract.
Regardless how able-bodied he played, Vokoun is not a abiding solution. At best, he is a acting fix until a anticipation such as Eric Hartzell or the Pens’ top aces this year, Tristan Jarry, is accessible to footfall in.
Marc-Andre Fleury knows that he is addition playoff collapse abroad from actuality traded or bought out. While Pens admirers are acquisitive that he can about-face it around, Ray Shero’s accommodation not to barter him agency that the alignment believes that he will.
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