Pittsburgh Penguins: A Dynasty In The Making?

Terry OlaesContributor IJune 13, 2009

DETROIT - JUNE 12:  The Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2-1 to win Game Seven and the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

While watching the postgame festivities on the NHL network last night, someone mentioned something about witnessing the beginnings of a dynasty in regards to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  That got me thinking:  In this day and age of free agency, is it even possible for a dynasty to exist?  

Sure, we've seen dominant teams in all of the major sports thrive despite the "money first" free-agent mentality (the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers come to mind as recent examples), but we've also seen teams crash and burn due to free agency losses, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning.  

The Pittsburgh Penguins are in an enviable position:  Most of their core players are 25 or younger and are signed to long-term deals.  Take a look at some of the notables below:

Sidney Crosby, 21—Signed until 2013
Evgeni Malkin, 22—Signed until 2013
Marc-Andre Fleury, 24—Signed until 2015
Jordan Staal, 20—Signed until 2013
Maxime Talbot, 25—Signed until 2011
Tyler Kennedy, 23—Signed until 2011
Chris Kunitz, 20—Signed until 2012

In addition to the young nucleus above, the Penguins also have some older players that will be around for a while yet:

Sergei Gonchar, 35—Signed until 2011
Brooks Orpik, 29—Signed until 2014
Chris Kunitz, 29—Signed until 2012
Pascal Dupuis, 30—Signed until 2011

However, the Penguins have quite a few players that will be free agents this summer, especially on defense:  Rob Scuderi, Hal Gill, Petr Sykora, Ruslan Fedotenko, Miroslav Satan.  

These players have played major roles in getting the team to the Cup, so they cannot be ignored.  

General manager Ray Shero has shown his skill at not only assembling a top-notch roster in a short amount of time, but also in his ability to get the core players committed to the team, judging by the number of long-term deals.  

So, is this a dynasty-in-the-making?  On paper, it sure looks promising.  Nevertheless, I know that one championship does not make a dynasty; just ask the number of players on former winning teams how hard it is to get back up there.  

It will depend on Shero's offseason moves in replacing players that leave, the ever-present injury bugaboo, and what other teams do to counter Pittsburgh.  

Time will tell if we're watching the late 2000's version of the most recent hockey dynasty, the late 90's Red Wings (three cups in six seasons), or a one-hit wonder, like the '04 Tampa Bay Lightning.