Predicting the Pittsburgh Penguins' Opening Night Lineup for 2014-15 Season

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Predicting the Pittsburgh Penguins' Opening Night Lineup for 2014-15 Season
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

A growing sect of Pittsburgh Penguins fans have been calling for wholesale changes within the organization over the last few seasons. Those folks have probably seen more roster revisions than they thought possible since Jim Rutherford came on board in early June, and the last month and some change only marks the beginning of a new chapter in Steel City.

Since the franchise won its third Stanley Cup in 2009, a team that appeared to be a dynasty in the making has been surpassed by rivals like the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.

The mantra of "patience is a virtue" caved this summer, and tough personnel choices were made following a second-round loss to the eventual Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers. That Game 7 failure seemed to be a tipping point for Mario Lemieux and Co., and they gutted the front office before hiring ex-Carolina Hurricanes GM Rutherford, who then fired longtime head coach Dan Bylsma.

Within a week of taking the job, the 65-year-old "good ol' boy" started retooling the roster while keeping an eye on advanced metrics. Math has its fingerprints all over the current shape of the roster, which will likely change between now and opening night on Oct. 9 against the Anaheim Ducks.

As the dust settles following the eruption that is free agency, now's as good a time as any to see how the Penguins are shaping up heading into the 2014-15 campaign. This examination assumes that Rutherford will retain restricted free agents Brandon Sutter and Nick Spaling.

Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently reported that the team hopes to sign the former to a long-term deal soon, while the latter was part of the James Neal trade and probably won't be allowed to walk for nothing.

 

All statistics appear courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted. Line combination information appears courtesy of DobberHockey's tracker tool.

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