The Pittsburgh Penguins ended the 2011-2012 on a relatively disappointing note, despite a good regular season highlighted by the return of team captain Sidney Crosby and NHL All-Star First Team performances by center, regular-season leading scorer and MVP Evgeni Malkin and right winger James Neal.
The team practically fell apart in a first-round contest against the Philadelphia Flyers, exiting early from the postseason for the third time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009.
This offseason, the team pursued free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter but failed to land either, while signing grinder Tanner Glass and several minor league players and losing veteran forward Steve Sullivan and tough guy Arron Asham.
The team also dealt Jordan Staal, formerly the best third-line center in the NHL, to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for center Brandon Sutter, defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin and the eighth pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, which they turned into another defensive prospect in Derrick Pouliot.
As the team prepares for the start of the 2012-2013 NHL season (providing there's no lockout), the Pittsburgh Penguins need to answer several big questions surrounding the organization to avoid another short season.