Pittsburgh Penguins Will Exceed Expectations in 2023-24


There’s no hockey being performed in the meanwhile, however that doesn’t essentially imply there’s much less to cowl and speak about in the center of the offseason. We’re nonetheless weeks away from coaching camp and the preseason, however the hype could be very actual surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins.

New normal supervisor Kyle Dubas will convey a recent strategy to roster building, one many followers are enthusiastic about. Previous administration underneath Ron Hextall and Brian Burke, given their tenured historical past across the league, didn’t reside as much as expectations and were eventually fired earlier this April.

Instead, Dubas ought to discover each alternative to bolster the roster whereas the core 4’s (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Erik Karlsson, and Kris Letang) Stanley Cup window remains to be open, and whereas constructing for the longer term.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While nonetheless removed from an elite Stanley Cup contender (at the very least as of proper now), the numerous strikes made actually pushed the group nearer in that path. In the modern-day NHL, offensive manufacturing is often pushed by a gifted top-six group. Acquiring Reilly Smith from the Vegas Golden Knights was a significant improve over Jason Zucker, who was gifted however vulnerable to damage.

A New And Improved Lineup

Barring damage, a top-six of Crosby, Malkin, Rickard Rakell, Bryan Rust, Jake Guenztel, and Smith can do loads of harm.

Related: Penguins Smart to Show Interest in Tomas Tatar

In 2022-23, the underside six was inconsistent. Oftentimes, it was the highest six carrying the underside six as a result of they weren’t able to holding their very own as in comparison with the highest two scoring traces. This season we’ll be taking a look at a completely completely different group.

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Noel Acciari, Matt Nieto, Lars Eller, and the emergence of Drew O’Connor will present a lift. This won’t be all that’s added, as Dubas is rumored to be looking into adding another ahead to the combination. However, count on nice enchancment over the 2022-23 season’s dreadful backside six. They must also assist enhance the penalty kill, one thing Pittsburgh has struggled with mightily in previous seasons.

It’s additionally been a really very long time because the Penguins had two stable top-two pairings on the blue line. Adding Karlsson has modified the dynamic of the protection core, as the primary and second power-play items might be boasting immense offensive upside. Having two potential Norris Trophy candidates (together with Letang) on the roster doesn’t harm, both.

Ryan Graves, however, a extremely coveted free agent acquisition, will assist spherical out a formidable blue line with Marcus Pettersson, arguably Pittsburgh’s most dependable defenseman. As each enter into the primes of their profession, one can count on each defensemen to build up stable manufacturing, a lot of ice time, and a constant defensive presence across the web as they pair up with both Karlsson or Letang.

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Not everybody was keen on administration re-signing Tristan Jarry, however there have been no higher choices on the open market. For the quantity of criticism his new contract might obtain, there’s no denying his ceiling as a top-ten goaltender when wholesome. That’s a giant if, however no person’s doubting Jarry’s skill in the web.

Mike Sullivan Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach
Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It additionally didn’t assist that there was not a succesful backup behind Jarry, ensuing in him enjoying greater than anticipated and never having an opportunity to relaxation a lot through the season. Casey DeSmith, whereas respectable at occasions, was underwhelming and couldn’t maintain his personal behind Jarry. Signing Alex Nedeljkovic to a one-year contract is a low-risk, high-reward acquisition that might show to be priceless as he’s solely 28 years previous.

Barring unexpected circumstances, it’s most likely secure to say they’ll be higher than final season. Getting rid of dangerous contracts and liabilities like Mikael Granlund, Jeff Petry, Jan Rutta, and DeSmith this offseason was a significant victory. That, in of itself, bodes properly for the Penguins’ wage cap and roster long run.

For Once, the Future Is Brighter Even With an Older Core

More importantly, Dubas is probably going not completed including and bettering the roster. Having him in Pittsburgh for the lengthy haul will proceed to provide success. He is aware of he nonetheless has work to do to proper the wrongs of the earlier administration, however what makes Penguins followers actually excited is his relentless skill to reshape the roster even after a large spending spree in free company.

That apart, the thrill will solely proceed to develop earlier than the puck drops at PPG Paints Arena in October. They are a reasonably good group on paper, however the extra necessary query to ask is just how deep into the playoffs can they go? At least, it’s good to lastly know there’s hope and optimism for the current and future because the franchise enters a seemingly new period.


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