After an amazing post season run and a shaky off season, many Penguin fans are asking, "what's next?"
Last season's Stanley Cup loss disappointed many from the Steel City, but the loss was really a great win for the young, humbled Pens.
Hossa quickly left the city and all Penguins fans immediately thought they were doomed. Many questioned the trade—however, the Penguins had more centers then there were roster spots for.
Losing both Armstrong and Christensen cut some spots on the team and left a few AHL players some very important ice time. Ice time that was so key in the growth of the future Pens.
Malkin's signing was way more important than Hossa's would ever be. Putting a good contract on a player that saved the Pens' season when Crosby was hurt clearly was top priority over someone who was truly not the most talented player on the team.
When you play along side the amazing talent of a young Sidney Crosby, there is no doubt that you will produce goals—any one with a slap shot will qualify for the position.
Before long many Penguins left and Shero had to fill some spots.
The talent of Miroslav Satan and Fedotenko will be welcomed. I would rather have two talented players rather than one over-priced skater that can easily be double covered.
Fluery's signing could be one of the most important moves made this entire off season. Fluery is still young and will become stronger and more talented each year. Scary, huh? Fleury was the keystone to the playoff run the Pens had last year, and he looked incredible.
As for the other signings Cooke is cleary Ruutu plus an offensive threat—which changes a tough checking line into being a two-way group.
The whole team will be incredible.
Crosby, Malkin, and Staal gain a year of talent and should be close to unstoppable.
However, if there is one thing I am most excited about it is the young AHL players poking through to the NHL level. Goligoski and Kennedy both looked strong in the limited days they had with the Pens. Kennedy's footwork and speed were very impressive and should look great on the third line.
Pesonen will be fun to watch as his speed will light up the NHL.
Next year promises to be entertaining even without Hossa.The Pens lineup should go something like this:
First line: Miroslav Satan, Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis
Second line: Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin, Petr Sykora (This line is the one I am most excited about. Staal and Malkin will be like adding TNT and a lit fuse.)
Third line: Ruslan Fedotenko, Maxime Talbot, Tyler Kennedy
Fourth line: Eric Godard, Janne Pesonen, Matt Cooke (If Pesonen adapts to the NHL properly look for the switch of him and Dupuis—a speedy skater could be just what Crosby needs)
Overall, the Pens should take the division and have a season quite close to last year. With the knowledge that the young Pens acquired this year, who knows how far it will take them—hopefully to Lord Stanley's house.