Conference Outlook: Pittsburgh Penguins

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully, a blog and podcast my friend Drew and I started based off of our mutual interest in the Philadelphia Flyers. See it on http://broadstreetbully.net.]

It’s that time of the year to take a subjective look at the teams that share the Metropolitan division with the Flyers.  As a Flyers fan, you’re aware of what the Flyers have done to make the team better this offseason.  But you may not know what other teams have done.  So, I went through the past articles from this offseason for every Metropolitan team and compiled a list of the moves that I think will affect the division standings the most this upcoming season.

Every team has signings and releases that they go through every offseason.  I’m not worried too much about every move the team has made since the season ended.  I focused more on the moves that I think will have the biggest impact on the team’s play next season.

After the jump, we look at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Flyers fans are going to be severely disappointed if they thought the Penguins were going to take a step backwards this offseason.  After all the potential talk of the trade of Malkin, or another big name, the Penguins spent this offseason making big splashes to help themselves get better.

The Penguins went and traded Brandon Sutter to the Canucks.  In return, the Penguins received Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening.  The Penguins felt comfortable enough that Sutter was a trade piece and got back two players for him in return.  Bonino brings experience to the Penguins lineup that is always useful.  Clendening might seems like a throw in, but he’s young and has potential.

Beau Bennett, Eric Fehr, Matt Cullen, Ian Cole, and Sergei Gonchar also joined the Penguins on free agent contracts or, in the case of Gonchar, a professional tryout.  Bennett impressed last year so it’s good for the Penguins that they were able to resign him.  And Eric Fehr is one of those guys that goes out and does what the team needs him to do.  Matt Cullen is a veteran center that is responsible defensively.  For a low cap hit, it’s a good signing by the Penguins to put Cullen onto the third of fourth line.  To boost the defense, the Penguins signed Ian Cole and brought Sergei Gonchar back on a professional tryout.  Will Cole will be a top defenseman for the Penguins?  Probably not. But he’s reliable.  And if Gonchar makes the team out of camp, his veteran leadership can only help the young guys.  The Penguins just can’t rely on him to play the minutes he used to for them.

Final overview: The Penguins went out and did their best to get better.  You can’t fault for the Penguins’ owners for not trying to field a winner.

Will they challenge for a playoff spot?  Yes.

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