Last season – 2nd in the Eastern Conference – STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS!
Before Christmas, the Penguins looked absolutely rubbish or mediocre if you ask most people. Then they hired a new coach, made some trades, found some form and confidence, and voila. Champions!
GM – Jim Rutherford
Rutherford seemed to be getting plenty of criticism for his last few years in Carolina and up until Christmas with the Penguins. The hiring of the correct coach with a more offensive-minded style and the trades for Bonino & Kessel in the offseason last year, and the trades for Daley, Schultz & Hagelin during the season, made them a deeper and much faster team that fit good when a new offensive-minded coach arrived.
His challenge will now be managing the cap and the slow renewal of the team because of most likely cap casualties the upcoming offseason.
Head Coach – Mike Sullivan
It was sort of a déjà vu situation for the Penguins, in regards to firing the head coach 1/3 into the season, before hiring a new head coach who managed to get them fired on all cylinders offensively. Mike Sullivan heads into the second season with a very confident team, compared to where they were around Christmas last year.
His challenge will be not doing too much, but at the same time not doing too little in regards to the progress of this team as they try to defend the Stanley Cup this season.
Stuart Percy (D), Mike Condon (G),
77th overall pick 2016 (Connor Hall, D)
Beau Bennett (RW)
The Penguins haven’t done a lot this summer, and why should they need to when they won the Stanley cup last year. Cullen and Schultz have been re-signed, while Zatkoff and Lovejoy signed elsewhere, with neither having a future with the team.
Goaltending – 9/10
The Penguins have a solid goaltending situation, with one of the best young goalies in the league in Murray who helped them win the cup last season, and a veteran goalie who when he is on, is among the league’s best goalies.
Defense – 8/10
The defense could be seen as a little bit shaky defensively, but the Penguins system is built on controlling the play and forcing the envelope, rather than sitting back. So, as long as they are on, it’s a good offensive mixture among the defensemen who helps the offense in running a high octane play.
If the team isn’t on their game however, they could see some problems, but overall a good group.
Dumoulin – Letang
Maatta – Daley
Cole – Schultz
Forwards – 10/10
The forward group consists of two of the best centers in the game, one of the best complimentary players in Hornqvist and one of the best third lines in the “HBK”-line. In addition, they have an experienced fourth lines that can make it hard for any opponent.
There are some question marks in regards to not having enough scoring wingers to assist Crosby and Malkin, which always has been there.
But, the cup las season might silence some of that. Crosby starts the season with a concussion, and it’s a bit up in the air in regards to when he will be back. However, when healthy you can’t give the champs anything less than 10/10 at this moment.
Sheary – Crosby – Hornqvist
Kunitz – Malkin – Rust
Hagelin – Bonino – Kessel
Kuhnhackl – Cullen – Fehr
Team Composition – 9/10
The team is built for a certain type of play, and when they are on and that play is working, it’s a solid game plan followed by an excellent tactic to go with the strategy. Adding to that, they got the grinders for when it doesn’t go as smooth.
The only issues are the lack of a proper shutdown guy/defensive defenseman, and the lack of another scoring winger. Which takes it away from being completely perfect.
Leadership presence – 9/10
The team got several players who have won two cups in this lineup, and even outside that got several experienced players who were added to the team throughout last year. Then Pens are a bit of a moody team, but got enough guys who should get them rebounding from potential rough patches.
Skill Value – 9/10
Throughout the lineup there is plenty of skill to go around. Mostly it’s located in the experienced players, and one could say that one thing this team is lacking, is a young scoring forward. But, it’s a luxurious problem one rather like to have, than not.