Will Pittsburgh Penguins Benefit from NHL's Offseason Changes?

Amber AlexanderContributor IJune 14, 2010

DETROIT - JUNE 12:  General Manager Ray Shero of the Pittsburgh Penguins holds the Stanley Cup following the Penguins victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game Seven of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Flyers making it to the Finals was the most bizarre story for the Cup Finals in a very long time.

They had to beat the Rangers in a shootout just to get into the playoffs before ousting the Devils, the Bruins, and finally the "dream team" Canadiens.

That is one hard road to travel to get to the Finals.  They were a team that wasn't even picked to go to the playoffs and now they are the runners-up. 

I don't see the Flyers becoming a team to make it to the Finals again next year.  They were running on straight energy and passion. This made even Penguin fans realize that they were doing the unthinkable, and if you are a big underdog supporter, you were rooting for the Flyers to beat the Hawks. 

This offseason is going to be big. Extremely big.

The NHL is upping the cap by about $2 million due to the increase in sales and viewership. More people are watching hockey and teams want to capitalize on this by increasing their fanbases. 

But you need one thing in order to get that: wins.

Teams are going to be desperate this offseason. They are going to want to produce a playoff-quality team to get ratings up.  

Big changes are going to come from all of the teams in the NHL, and I am more than thrilled about it.

As a Penguin fan, I know that we will most likely lose Sergei Gonchar to free agency along with Mark Eaton, but I also know that Ray Shero isn't happy with how the season ended and saw what changes need to be made.

Last summer we were on the high of winning the Cup. Even after losing Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill, fans were still optimistic about their team.

This season was stressful, to say the least. The ups and downs were enough to make you want to pull your hair out. "Consistency" became our daily vocabulary word after hearing Coach Dan say it repeatedly.

But this offseason is going to be different. Shero will be more aggressive in getting wingers as well as better defense to improve the Penguins' level of consistency. 

The draft is more than a week away, but talks should be circulating this week as to who is leaving and who is going. 

Matt Cooke will be in a Penguins uniform next year. There hasn't been one negative discussion about bringing Cooke back in.  He'll get three years to continue to play with Jordan Staal. 

One player that I don't see playing alongside Staal is Tyler Kennedy.  He had his ups and downs as well, but more downs than ups.  He is an energy guy on a team with wingers who could outshine him.  If Shero was looking to get a good deal with Kennedy, I see him taking it.

Kennedy would shine on another team and could compete for a second line winger spot, but with the Penguins being so built down the middle, it's hard for him to compete with the Penguins roster.

Right now, Bill Guerin is at a 50/50 in terms of coming back. The Penguins will re-sign him if he takes yet another "hometown discount."  He's not ready to put the skates up and with his relationship with the management and team I see them giving him his last year.

If Guerin stays, I see them putting him on Sidney Crosby's line and seeing how that goes at the beginning. He'll get scratched some games to rest. He's not capable of another 82-plus games this season. 

I've already discussed what wingers we should try for and what defensemen we should try for in my other posts. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins will benefit from this offseason with so many teams looking to jump at the increase in fans.  

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for July 1.