What a summer.
It's been about six months since the beginning of the 2013 season. Just a few weeks since the Blackhawks' cup-clinching victory over Boston. And about $500 million in buyouts and new contracts since the last time you wondered why the NHL keeps having all these lockouts.
Through it all, the Penguins have kept everything steady. A four-game sweep at the hands of the Bruins resulted in exactly none of the slobbering-mad organizational upheaval some had forecast.
The Penguins appear to be just about finished with their free agency dealings, having spent the bulk of their Day 1 cap space on former defenseman Rob Scuderi and passed on the deadline to use compliance buyouts this season.
Presented without narrative, context or substance, a quick cap of the Pens' offseason.
Who's In -- C Evgeni Malkin, F Chris Kunitz, F Pascal Dupuis, D Kris Letang, D Rob Scuderi, F Craig Adams. AHL WBS assets F Bobby Farnham, F Chris Conner, F Andrew Ebbett, F Nick Drazenovic. Some draft picks.
The biggest fish to be fried were the contract extensions for Malkin and Letang, both of whom will be with the Penguins at CBA-max eight-year terms (both of which will activate in the 2014-15 season). Malkin signed as long a deal he could sign as soon as he was allowed to sign it -- sooner, in fact. Geno's deal wasn't inked until early July but had been agreed upon before the ice at CONSOL had been melted down and shoveled away for the year. The dude is a Penguin. Letang's extension was a little tougher to get done, but hot damn, the Penguins got a Norris Trophy candidate for eight years on the cusp of an NHL defenseman's usual prime years at a below-market price.
A few years back, one look at the Pens' CapGeek page revealed GM Ray Shero's biggest looming challenge -- maintaining his young Stanley Cup core. So far, he's locked up Sidney Crosby for the next decade, Malkin and Letang through the primes of their careers and turned Jordan Staal into a trade with impressive early returns.
Four for four, by our count, unless you're a real fan of power moves.
On top of that, the Pens have locked up their top scoring wingers for the next half-decade, with Kunitz and Dupuis signing three- and four-year extensions, respectively, that will keep them with Pittsburgh through the 2017 season.
Couple the Scuderi signing with the assumption that second-year forward Beau Bennett will assume a spot on Evgeni Malkin's left wing, and Shero managed to secure the team's top-six for four more seasons, its top defensive pairing for at least as many and did it all without spending a single cent on unknown free agent quantities -- players who miss (Zbynek Michalek) as often as they hit (Paul Martin).
Who's Out -- F Jarome Iginla, D Douglas Murray, F Brenden Morrow, D Mark Eaton, F Matt Cooke, F Tyler Kennedy
Few surprises here, as all of Shero's big deadline acquisitions are on the outs. The only real loss of substance may be Matt Cooke, who turned into a defensive demon on the penalty kill and at even strength.
Cooke has signed on for three years in Minnesota. Kennedy, who was dealt to the Sharks for a second-round pick, signed a two-year extension with San Jose. Iginla, hilariously, is in Boston. Eaton, Morrow and Murray are all unsigned, but none figures to return to the Penguins given that they have less than $700,000 in cap space available with RFA's Dustin Jeffrey and Robert Bortuzzo still to be re-signed.
That seems to be the short and skinny of it so far. Dan Bylsma still has a job. Two, in fact. He'll be coaching the US Men's Olympic Team at Sochi in 2014. He'll also be working with Shero, who is assistant to team GM David Poile, his former boss in Nashville.
The Pens have made a point of modeling themselves after Ken Holland's Red Wings, and Shero cut his executive's teeth in Nashville, where the franchise has had the same head coach and general manager from the start.
The steady offseason is par for the course.