It was the save of the season. With under a second left to go in the 2008-2009 NHL Stanley Cup Final, Marc-Andre Fleury pulled off the save of his life, and the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup. However, While all the members of the Pens’ names were being engraved into the mug, everyone was asking the same question, Can they do it again?
This is my third article on Bleacher Report, and my first in the NHL section, and what better topic to write about then the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re the defending Stanley Cup Champions, and we’re just a couple of games in to the Pre-season. So, let’s see what the Penguins went through in the off season.
I’m going to start on what I think is their worst move of the off season, which came almost right after their worst move of the regular season. The worst move of the year, for me, was getting rid of Dany Sabourin. I thought that he was the best and most consistent goalie on the Pens, and I definitely would’ve traded Fleury instead of him. In my opinion, he was Mr. Clutch for the Penguins, and I am afraid that Pat Quinn won’t be using him properly in Edmonton due to the Star that’s starting, Nikolai Khabibulin.
When they traded Sabourin, they got back, Mathieu Garon, who played 4 games after the trade for the Pens, and 1 game in the SCF. They unfortunately let him go without signing him. He now plays with the Blue Jackets, and the Pens have Brent Johnson and Dan Curry competing for the Backup spot to Fleury. This will be a tough one, because I’ve seen Curry play, and he has a lot of potential, but Johnson can always come up and finish a game. I think that Bylsma should go with Curry. I think he’s a bit like Brian Eliott with the Ottawa Senators, if you play him, he’ll deliver.
Now from the last line of defence to the…..line of defence, let’s take a look at the new D-men that the Pens have to offer this year. I was looking at the Penguins defence on their website earlier, and I realized that the Penguins defence is very young. In fact, the only new Penguin defenders this year, are pretty much draft picks. To add to that, the oldest is Sergei Gonchar, who is 35. So, it’s a very young penguins D this year. I think Bylsma wants the Older D to act as mentors to the younger ones, which I definitely agree with. The only two UFA pick-ups were Jay McKee, from St. Louis, and Nate Guenin, from Philly, who I don’t even think you can qualify as a NHL experienced player (12 NHL game in 3 seasons with PHI).
Now for the new forwards, including the draft picks that are moving up. The Penguins only picked up two UFA forwards who, honestly, will have a tough time cracking the lineup. Chris Conner and Michael Rupp.
Conner is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated players in the game. He has a great game sense, and the ability to score. If I were Coach, I would put him as a 4th line right winger. He was basically made for that position. However, I think he went to the wrong team, at the wrong time, because Pittsburgh has a lot of young talent, and I think that he’ll be down in Wilkes Barre for a lot of the season, while Bylsma trys on new talent.
As for Rupp, I think he’s the Penguins excuse for Hal Gill. He’s 6’5, he can score when he wants to, and he can also fight. He is, again, inconsistent , but when he wants to play, he can and will be the much needed intimidation factor on the Pens. He might not get to play much, but when he does, he’ll step it up.
So not much of a change for the big bad beige this year, and expect another cup run, that might just be successful. Until next time, have a nice day.