Hello, Pens fans! We are back for the 2016-’17 season and it’s going to be a great title defense. Without further ado, here are your questions answered below:
I don’t think resting veterans is a terrible idea. Now if we are talking Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin level players, no.
Guys like Chris Kunitz and Matt Cullen surely should get some days off to stay fresh. The Penguins are going to have a ton of depth this season and a lot of them will be young guys.
Guys like Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Scott Wilson, and potentially Oskar Sundqvist may be the ones who will have to rotate in and out of the lineup on a consistent basis due to everyone being healthy now. I’d love to see some of these guys mix in so I’m hoping there will be some rest for veteran guys.
LW- Chris Kreider, Max Pacioretty, Zach Parise, James van Riemsdyk
C- Tyler Johnson, Nick Bjugstad, Paul Stastny, Ryan Kesler, Derek Stepan
RW- Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, Blake Wheeler, Joe Pavelski
D- Dustin Byfuglien, John Carlson, Justin Faulk, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan Suter
G- Ben Bishop, Jonathan Quick, Corey Schneider
The USA team was limited with the whole Team North America BS. Obviously, eligible players such as Kessel and Bishop were glaring options that were left untaken.
The Penguins actually have a better prospect system than the eye catches. Outside of Pittsburgh, hockey fans don’t realize the potential this group has.
In no specific order, I’d go: Daniel Sprong, Jake Guentzel, Tristan Jarry, Teddy Blueger, Ethan Prow.
As you’ll realize, I stayed with guys who have very little to no NHL experience.
Sprong has the potential to be a prolific scorer for years to come. He revived little playing time under Mike Johnston, which didn’t help his development so he went back to juniors for a season. He’ll likely begin his season in the AHL when he returns from injury.
Guentzel is a natural center but given the team’s depth down the middle and their intent to resign Nick Bonino, it’s likely that next year’s, and likely year’s to come after that, center core will be Crosby, Malkin, Bonino, and Sundqvist. So Sullivan has said Guentzel will be a left wing. It’s a position the Penguins may need to fill in upcoming seasons and Guentzel will be part of that audition.
It’s never a bad thing to have three NHL capable goaltenders, especially if two of them are still on entry level deals. The Penguins have that with Tristan Jarry. Jarry has always been projected to be a solid goalie and his preseason performance says no different. He’ll back up Flower to start the season, but what will become of that when Matt Murray gets back?
Blueger is a similar player to Guentzel but maybe a little less talented. Regardless, it’s still a great pick up for Pittsburgh. He’ll be a center though as well so he may need to add some versatility to his game if he wants to succeed with the Penguins or any NHL team.
Finally, we’ve come to Ethan Prow, who is actually the most intriguing in my opinion. Prow is a smaller player but has great offensive intangibles and a skill set. Prow can succeed despite his size if he can continue to refine his defense. The Penguins prized college free agent signing this offseason could be a Penguin sooner rather than later.
I’d also like to honorably mention Stuart Percy in this conversation. The Penguins signed him off of free agency this offseason when Toronto had decided he wasn’t worth a contract compared to their other contracted rookies. He’s a pretty sound defenseman already on both sides of the puck. Expect for him to see some NHL ice time this season if some injuries occur on the blue line. If the Penguins move on from Derrick Pouliot, I’d expect either Percy or Steven Oleksy to fill the seventh defenseman role.
For Matt Murray the sky is the limit. There won’t be a ton to improve upon for him besides a few kinks to work out in his game. I personally see Scott Wilson being the most improved.
He was great in his 24 games last year and he could see substantial playing time if he impresses his coaching staff, which I don’t see as a problem.
Wilson has the best finishing ability of all of these players and won’t go forgotten in Mike Sullivan’s high pace-high scoring offensive scheme.
Personally I don’t think so. I think the Penguins want to experiment with Hagelin and potentially Kessel on Sid’s wing at some point when all are healthy.
I think they want to spread the lines out a little and see if they can’t find a combination that hits.
With that being said…
Come playoff time, you can bet your bottom dollar the ‘HBK’ Line will again emerge to give the Penguins the most lethal line in hockey.
This is a tougher question because the Pens are so deep that really only injuries are going to give someone a promotion.
My list of people we should for sure see in the NHL would be Oskar Sundqvist, Jake Guentzel, and Carter Rowney.
These three will likely be guaranteed some NHL time this season if an injury occurs. With Sid’s injury, it’s likely we’ll see Sundqvist take Sid’s roster spot down the middle.
Guentzel and Rowney fit the Penguins’ “long term plans” according to Mike Sullivan. But they’re an injury or two away from making their NHL debuts.
Defenseman Stuart Percy is one that I like. He probably won’t get NHL time because of the depth at defense and it’s likely David Warsofsky would get the call before Percy due to his seniority with the club.
I don’t think anyone is complaining about the jersey design. They’re absolutely gorgeous. I love them.
As for the Stadium Series jersey…
It’s tough to speculate. The Penguins obviously went with the modernized old-school 1990’s look with their new home and away’s. The blue uniforms could always return.
Being it’s the 50th anniversary, the Penguins will likely stay with the throwback theme instead of trying to create a brand-new jersey for the Stadium Series.
Opening Graphic done by @goodkdmaattacty