There are 63 days until the first preseason game for the Pittsburgh Penguins on September 22nd.
Yes, I'm counting.
This has been the strangest offseason I have ever seen since becoming a hockey fan.
The anticipation of the new season is growing strong and now it's time to discuss who will show up for the Penguins.
One thing Ray Shero did this offseason was step up with the defense—big time.
He brought in Paul Martin and Zydnek Michalek, who both took less than what other teams, including their present teams at the time, were willing to pay them.
Knowing this, I think they wanted to play for a Stanley Cup team, play behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and play for an organization that has a close, friendly relationship with its players.
Another thing that WILL change this season is the production of Evgeni Malkin and Marc Andre Fleury.
They were highly criticized for their play this year and I see them having a grudge against their critics.
What helped this past season was that the players defended their teammates against the media and shut down any false attention.
Sidney Crosby will be Sidney Crosby and probably win more awards and still get criticized by opposing fans (particularly Flyers and Caps fans).
One player I see doing well this season is Max Talbot. He's been in talks of this being his "try-out" season. He wants to be a Penguin for life alongside his best friend, Crosby, but he needs to show his production this season.
Ray Shero will sign one more roster player and if it isn't the guy I want, Billy Guerin, I would want him to get John Madden.
Here is why:
John Madden is a veteran who has won 3 Cups, most recently with the Chicago Blackhawks. He is an amazing penalty killer and will defend a teammate without a second thought. He hits and produces on the ice, and he is a leader off the ice.
The Pens have exactly $2,897,305, according to capgeek.com.
John Madden is 37 years old and will only probably get a one-year deal anywhere.
He made $2,750,000 last season and I don't think he can find any team to give him that much with a lot of teams so close to the cap.
I would think he would want to play for Pittsburgh, especially when he's so close to retiring, and Pittsburgh is going to be a contender as long as they keep their core together of Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Orpik and Fleury. Martin and Michalek are going to stay for a while, too.
Pittsburgh has a strong following as well as many critics. When Montreal shockingly disposed of the Penguins, it woke them up to know they aren't invisible.
In 63 days we will get to see our Pittsburgh Penguins come out with a vengeance.