The Pittsburgh Penguins celebrated their 2016 Stanley Cup championship in very good fashion. They finished second in the Metropolitan division with 111 points, then got past the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals, Ottawa Senators and Nashville Predators, and won the Cup again. This year, they will look to get the threepeat. With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, the Pens didn\’t need to do much, but here\’s a look at what they did do.
Notable additions: G Antti Niemi, RW Ryan Reaves, D Matt Hunwick, D Jarred Tinordi, C Jay McClement (PTO), F Greg McKegg.
Notable subtractions: C Nick Bonino, G Marc-Andre Fleury, LW Chris Kunitz, C Matt Cullen, D Trevor Daley, D Mark Streit, D Ron Hainsey, D Steve Olesksy, F Oskar Sundqvist, D David Worsofsky.
Here are my projected forward lines.
Conor Sheary – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
Jake Guentzal – Evgeni Malkin -Scott Wilson
Carl Hagelin – Bryan Rust – Phil Kessel
Carter Rowney – Jay McClement – Ryan Reaves
That first line has been nothing but successful since being united last season. The only reason I had Kessel on the third line instead of the second is that Kessel and Malkin showed signs of bad chemistry during the playoffs.The HBK line now has Bryan instead of Bonino. I predict the Penguins will sign McClement, since they need a center. They\’ve been reported to have been in trade talks with the Bruins including C Ryan Spooner. If they land him, they won\’t sign McClement, and their lines will be jumbled around. Josh Archibald, Tom Kuhnhackl and Tom Sestito are the extra forwards.
Here are my projected defensive pairs.
Olli Maatta – Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin – Justin Schultz
Ian Cole – Matt Hunwick
If Letang is actually healthy, he\’s a top defenseman in the league. Schultz and Dumoulin just signed new deals, and are a solid second pair. I really am not a fan of the Matt Hunwick signing, but injuries happen, I guess. Frankie Corrado, Jarred Tinordi and Chad Ruhwedel are the extra defensemen.
Murray is now a top goalie after two Cups. Replacing Fleury with Niemi is really bad, but they\’ll have to live with it. Tristan Jarry is the extra goalie, if needed.
As an Islander fan, it pains me to say it, but the Penguins are an amazing team. They will compete for the President\’s trophy, and be close to a threepeat.