Welcome to the 2015 – 2016 Metro Division Season Primers.
For this season primer, I could literally write “Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel” 300 times and hit publish, and that would be your season primer. The acquisition of Kessel is one that will be huge for a Pittsburgh Penguins team that has never done what was expected of them after drafting Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin ten years ago – win multiple Stanley Cups.
Notable Additions: RW Phil Kessel, F Eric Fehr, C Nick Bonino, C Matt Cullen
Notable Departures: D Paul Martin, C Brandon Sutter, D Christian Ehrhoff, LW Nick Spaling
This season is one that brings much opportunity for the Penguins. A deep run into the playoffs could be in order with the offensive firepower and strong goaltending they have. Their downfall however, will be their defence. The losses of both Paul Martin, and Christian Ehrhoff to free agency last year, as well as others like Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen have forced the Penguins to dress young defencemen.
Olli Maatta (21 years old, 98 NHL GP), Adam Clendening (22 years old, 21 NHL GP) and Brian Dumoulin (24 years old, 14 NHL GP) are expected to come in and grow up quickly. The Penguins have however, a nice complement of veteran defenseman to complement the young guns. Kris Letang, Ben Lovejoy and Rob Scuderi will help guide them along their way. This season, the team is spending the third least amount of their cap budget on their defence.
LW C RW
Chris Kunitz (3.850) – Sidney Crosby (8.700) – Phil Kessel (6.800)
Sergei Plotnikov (0.925, 2.850 Bonuses) – Evgeni Malkin (9.500) – Patric Hornqvist (4.250)
Eric Fehr (2.000) – Nick Bonino (1.900) – David Perron (3.813)
Pascal Dupuis (3.750) – Matt Cullen (0.800) – Beau Bennett (0.800)
Olli Maatta (0.895) – Kris Letang (7.250)
Derrick Pouliot (0.864, 0.425 Bonuses) – Ian Cole (2.100)
Rob Scuderi (3.375) – Ben Lovejoy (1.100)
Brian Dumoulin (0.800) – Adam Clendening (0.762)
Tim Erixon (0.600)
Marc-Andre Fleury (5.750)
Jeff Zatkoff (0.600)
As the season is about to get going, the Penguins will look to come out of the gate strong and make a big push. Loaded with offensive talent, this team is heavily relying on their star players. Crosby and Malkin have led the way for this team for a long time and they are still considered two of the best players in the world. Simply put, the pair will need to do exactly what they have done for the last number of years.
The potential is there for this team to click and do some damage in the Eastern Conference for the first time since they reached the Conference finals and got swept by the Bruins in 2012-2013.