What a crazy year for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They opened their new gorgeous arena, the Consol Energy Center. They played and hosted the Winter Classic at Heinz Field.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal all missed over 30 games and the Pens still managed to finish in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Penguins season was full of ups and downs. Now, after a first round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, we can look forward to free-agency, the draft and eventually next season.
General Mangager Ray Shero, who I consider the best in the business, will be very busy as usual. Before July 1st, he has to lure back a number of pending free agents. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Reveiw, the Pens have 17 players signed through next season, worth a whopping $55 million.
That's not good news considering that it only gives the Pens about $4.4 million to fill in four different starting spots.
We have already learned that Mike Comire and Alexei Kovalev will not be back next season.
Of course this comes as no surprise.
Comrie, 30, was signed as a free agent last summer, but got hurt after a strong preseason. Comrie had a goal and five assists in 21 games and did not appear in the playoffs after he had been cleared to return from hip surgery.
Comrie was signed really cheap and some thought that he could be a 40 point, 20 goal guy playing with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
Of course injuries absolutely destroyed Comrie's season and now we'll never know what could have been. Not only is Comrie not returning to the Pens, Shero seems to think that Comrie might retire. I hope Hilary Duff still has all of her Lizzie McGuire money.
As for Kovalev, the experiment was interesting. I for one do not think Kovalev played nearly as bad as some. However, he definitely doesn't have much left in the tank. Kovalev had two goals, seven points in 20 regular-season games and one goal, two points in seven playoff games.
I still think that Kovalev might have produced a lot more had Malkin and/or Crosby been in the lineup. Remember that Kovalev was often being centered by Marc Letestu.
Reports are that Kovalev might go over and play in the KHL. Most Pens fans were very hard on Kovalev, but mostly because of the high expectations and due to the fact that Crosby and Malkin weren't in the lineup. The fact is Kovalev will always be one of the better Penguin wingers of all-time.
Now that we know that these two are gone for sure, the Penguins can focus on the real priorities.
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