The Pittsburgh Penguins: A Comprehensive Look at the 2013-2014 Off-Season

The Pittsburgh Penguins, A Comprehensive Look at the 2014 Off-Season

With five years of relative inadequacy behind them, the Pittsburgh Penguins have headed into this off-season with a number of questions to be answered. Ray Shero, who took over for the club's only other Stanley Cup winning general manager, Craig Patrick, has been fired after winning a Cup with the team in 2008-2009. The man that Shero tagged as the team's head coach after the firing of Michel Therrien in that 2008-2009 season, Dan Bylsma, is now hanging in the wind as a left-over. Needless to say, Disco never sounded more like the blues after five straight losses to lower seeded playoff teams – Montreal, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Boston, and this year, the Rangers. Call them, or at least Shero, casualties of playoff wars – a time when hockey looks a little bit more like the WWE.

Co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle axed Shero after the team's game seven failure on home ice, citing that the former GM failed to make the team gritty, or nasty, enough. So, what has changed over the last five seasons? While Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were still considered superstars during the Cup winning season, there were no other players considered to be true five-star talents, save for maybe Sergei Gonchar. That roster was composed with more experienced players, such as Gonchar, Bill Guerin and Ruslan Fedotenko. Hey, remember everyone's favorite scary guy, Miroslav Satan? Those Penguins were more than just tough by name though. Matt Cooke, Hal Gill, Eric Godard and Paul Bissonette proved that when you messed with the big-names, you met with fists.

Over the years, experience and gumption have given way to what seems like name-value, essentially more pomp and less circumstance. Players like Kris Letang, James Neal and Paul Martin, all potential trade chips this off-season, adorn the star-studded roster of Penguins now. However, Lemieux and Burkle see the need for a more disciplined, tougher, defensive-minded brand of hockey. This line of thinking led to Shero's dismissal and will likely lead to the fire of Bylsma as well. So, with questions like "Who's the new GM?", "Who's the coach?", "What are we going to do with …(insert player name here)...?" on the mind, this is a comprehensive look at the 2014 off-season for the Pittsburgh Penguins.....

Let's start near the top of the organization, in the same place that ownership would seemingly like to begin, with the new GM....

General Manager

To understand what the ownership wants from the new GM, one probably needs to have a solid understanding of Mario Lemieux and his style of play.Lemieux had his career cut tragically short due to numerous physical ailments, specifically a bad back and lymphoma. Similar to Lemieux, franchise players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, have both missed significant portions of time due to a myriad of injuries. In fact, who hasn't missed a few games lately for Pittsburgh anyway? What Lemieux, Crosby, and the fans do agree upon is that the Penguins have been physically pushed around in the playoffs, and big-money players like Crosby and Malkin, and Lemieux in his time, ought to be protected. And, when ownership pays each of their two elite centers in excess of 8.5million per year, wouldn't it be wise to protect the investment?

In addition to re-tooling a team that apparently lacks character, the new GM will also have to carefully navigate the league's salary cap. While the new number has not been set officially yet, it is expected to fall somewhere around $68-71million. Six players (Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Letang, Fleury, and Martin) are on the books for $5million, or more, next year. Those six players, while pretty spectacular, comprise approximately 55% of the teams (again, approximately) $71million cap space. That's a lot of star-power and not a whole lot left in the bank to spread around anywhere else. It probably makes sense to trade at least one of those players, but who? For who? ….

In Defense of Ray Shero

Of course, the Pens can't expect much in their future if they don't learn from the past, namely Ray Shero. On paper, Shero built a magnificent team, and the majority of fans seemed to like his work. You can count me among them. You've probably forgotten about Ryan Whitney by now. He turned into Olympian Chris Kunitz when the Pens needed a winger for Crosby after Marian Hossa's departure. You've probably also forgotten about the conditional pick the Pens sent to the Islanders for Bill Guerin in the same season. Heck, if Shero had been able to resign Hossa, that deal would have been genius as well. Of course, everyone remembers more recent history and the trade of Alex Goligoski to the Dallas Stars, which brought James Neal and Matt Niskanen into the fold. In the beginning, fans thought it would have been a good deal for Neal alone. Some managers will likely make it seem as if Goligoski for Niskanen straight up would have been a good deal with what Niskanen will likely fetch in free agency. In my opinion, the team has become less gritty and if what ownership says is true – that Shero was given enough control to build the team to his liking, then I suppose the termination (in combination with a firing of Dan Bylsma) would make sense. However, I'm not sold on the move, not yet anyway. We'll take a look at five other moves Shero made, most of which also turned out pretty well.

#1 – Firing Therrien, Hiring Bylsma... Result was a Stanley Cup. Many will argue that it was Therrien's system in place which guided the Pens to the Cup in 2009. However, the team was floundering mid-way through the season and without a playoff spot before a change was made. Fans may forget that the Pens were the #4 seed and beat Philadelphia in six games that year.

#2 – The Jordan Staal Trade... At the time, fans were pretty content with this deal. Remember, Staal had one year remaining on his contract and was offered and extension that he did not sign. Reportedly, he wanted to play with his brother, Eric, in Carolina. So, what does a savvy general manager do with a player he knows is not going to resign? Trade him! Brandon Sutter has been an adequate third line center, showing flashes of offensive brilliance. He even reminds me of Staal once in a while, driving up the right side of the ice before firing a wrist short to the left of the keeper. Face it, he's not bad. Additionally, we haven't even seen the likes of Brian Doumolin or Derrick Pouliot at the NHL level, yet. Given that Shero had only one possible trade partner, it seems like getting any sort of deal accomplished ought to be given full marks, but getting a reasonable replacement, a prospect, and a first round pick is even better. Consider this: former Vancouver Canucks GM, Mike Gillis, a possible replacement for Shero, parlayed Cory Schneider into the 8th overall pick in their deal with New Jersey. The Pens got the 8th overall pick (Pouliot), Doumolin, and Sutter! If that's not robbery, I don't know the definition.

#3 – Defensive Prospects... Numerous Pens fans will tell you that offense, particularly a top 6 winger, has been ignored on draft day. In the past, there was no tremendous need. Crosby and Malkin make just about anyone look decent. Why would you draft offense when you have those two as your corner stones? And, as mentioned already, it's often forgotten that Shero brought in a number of different wingers for Sid and Geno. Anybody remember Alexei Ponikarovsky? Ok, that one didn't work out so well. But, in my opinion, Shero did the logical thing and stocked up on top-class defense prospects. Pittsburgh reaped the benefits of one of those prospects this season in Olli Maatta. The bevy of prospects will allow a new general manager to soften the blow when a veteran stalwart like Brooks Orpik is lost to free agency or what would be a tremendously disappointing career-ending knee injury. Prospects could also add a little spice to some of those trade offers, no? This armchair GM puts another check in the box for Shero.

#4 – Deadline Deals... Can you fault Shero here either? He did everything he possibly could to make the team rougher and tougher, with more character, when the Penguins flamed out against the Bruins, 0-4, last year. Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrow, two former team captains, one future Hall of Fame player, would make for pretty good character references. Remember them, or Douglas Murray? How about Jussi Jokinen? He just had a career year. Even Lee Stempniak looked good on the forecheck and created turnovers. Maybe you could say that less is more, but all of these moves, with the possible exception of two second round picks for Murray, seemed like good ideas at the time. Hindsight hasn't tarnished them, if you ask me.

#5 – The Negatives... Ok, I'll give you a couple things to count as a negative on Shero's record. Who's the last big-name free agent that the Penguins have signed? Please don't count Rob Scuderi. Poor guy, he's taking a beating over that broken ankle. Seriously though, Jaromir Jagr? No, he went to Philly, then Dallas, then New Jersey, scorning history with the Penguins and breaking fans' hearts in the process. Ryan Suter? His $7million contract looks a whole heck of a lot better than Letang's right now, huh? I would love to have him on this roster. Alas, Suter is up in Minnesota with Crosby's good buddy, Zach Parise. No, Parise definitely wasn't going to be left off the list either. Seriously though, why can't the Pens sign anybody? By no means am I the oldest Penguins fan around, but I cannot remember a truly significant signing for the franchise in the last 20 years.

Second, while the final results have not come in yet, Shero's early drafts did not return much success. 2006 draftees Staal, Brian Strait and Chad Johnson have moved on to productive careers in other cities. 2007 was a better year at the back end of the draft than the front. Angelo Esposito, the first round pick, is probably most recognizable as an answer to a useless trivia question. 3rd rounder, Robert Bortuzzo is still a physical presence on the Pens blue line and the last two picks, Jake Muzzin and Dustin Jeffrey, now play for the Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings respectively. The 2008 draft may as well have not even occurred with only four picks and none of them turning into NHL talent. From 2009, little other than 30th overall pick, Simon Despres, has emerged. Now would be a good time for the first-rounder to find his form. Philip Samuelson and Ben Hanowski are also worth mentioning as prospects, but are not likely to have much impact at the NHL level this season. 2010 saw Shero select Beau Bennett with the 20th pick. Bennett was supposed to break out this year, but had his season cut short due to wrist injury. Surely, management is hoping that Bennett will continue his development without another hiccup and become a productive winger. Analysis of the 2011-2013 drafts can be left alone for the time being since many of those players are nowhere near full development. However, if the early results for Derrick Pouliot and Tristian Jarry are any indication, management may end up regretting their decision to fire Shero.

And Now Back to Our Regular Programming...

Now that you know what the GM will need to do and who he's got to look smarter than, who have you got? Rumor had it that Sidney Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson could have been in the mix, but that has since been dispelled. Personally, I wasn't a big fan of the idea anyway. Who else is available? There's former assistant, current interim GM, Jason Botterill, 38 years of age. A student of the salary cap and scouting departments, Botterill replaced Chuck Fletcher and has a little bit ofNHL playing-time under his belt. What he lacks in playing experience, he doesn't exactly make up for in front-office experience either. He hasn't been around long, but he has moved up the ranks quickly and many consider him one of the young executives around the league to watch out for in the future. The upside here is that he knows the organization. The downside is that he'll probably sound a lot like Ray Shero... if you call that a downside.

If you're in the mix for a different up-and-comer, Julien Brisebois (Assistant GM – Tampa) or Paul Fenton (Assistant GM – Nashville) are the two logical choices. Brisebois, the more likely candidate at this point, is 37, has a law degree, and turned around the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs as part of the Canadien's front office before Steve Yzerman brought him to Tampa Bay. Fenton, like Shero, is a graduate of the David Poile school in Nashville. Given that management wants to change direction, Fenton, while qualified, does not make as much sense as other candidates.

Greg Wyshynski, over at Yahoo, seems to think that between-the-boards analyst, Pierre Maguire, could be a logical fit. Penguins fans the world over seem to think the idea is a joke. He played. He coached. He scouted. He constantly offers insight, and he's been watching the Penguins for years now. While I'm not rooting for the guy because I'm in the minority – I actually like him on my broadcast, I'm with Wyshynski in thinking that might be interesting to put a nerd up in the luxury box and see what happens. I'm just not sold on doing it with the team that I root for. Give me some more options.

Jim Benning, the former Boston assistant, has signed on to be the new GM for the Canucks. The Penguins were once thought to be interested in his services. While no preference has been mentioned as of yet, there are only a handful of gentlemen with NHL experience: Mike Gillis (Vancouver Canucks), Jay Feaster (Calgary Flames), or Darcy Regeir (Buffalo Sabres). Of those three, not one appears to be an especially good fit. Feaster, however, was born near Pittsburgh, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for whatever that may be worth when trying to pin a tail on this donkey of a situation. Since I seem to be the guy that likes to throw out crazy questions, here's a question for you: Why not Mario Lemieux himself? It is not unprecedented. Jerry Jones has done it. I'm not sure I want the Penguins to end up like America's team though.

Weigh in with your thoughts on the matter, please, because I don't have an answer to the question that I like yet. Botterill and Brisebois are my two favorites at this point, but I'm only calling them that by default. And, of course, once the GM is in place, we've got to talk about.....

The New Head Coach

Unfortunately, once again, your guess is probably just as good as mine on this topic. Of course, Dan Bylsma is still the head coach, at least, until a new GM is hired. But, then what? He's had an incredible record (252-117-32), but that's just for the regular season, and recent years have proven that regular season records can be very deceptive when it comes time for the playoffs. Although Bylsma has a very impressive resume, including a Stanley Cup, a Jack Adams award, and a stint with the U.S. Men's National team recently, it still remains unlikely that he'll be returned to the team. So, let's see the candidates and make another round of bets. Shall we?

Barry Trotz, a more defensively-minded coach is out of the running, gone to Washington. John Tortarella has been mentioned as the sort of lightning-rod, edge of your seat kind of guy that might breath new life into a stale Penguins locker room. The Sedins twins are no Crosby and Malkin, but he Torts sure didn't impress anyone in his brief stay with Vancouver. How about Mike Keenan? He hasn't been relevant to the NHL in quite a while, but he did just win a championship over in Russia with Evgeni Malkin's second favorite team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Keenan also boasts a Stanley Cup and tons of head coach, and even GM experience. It's been suggested by some that Ulf Samuelsson's name can be thrown into the head-coaching mix. He's a former Penguin and he's definitely known for his hard-nosed style. One other name worth mentioning could be Marc Crawford. He won a Cup in '96 with the Avalanche and he's a power-play specialist. With the Penguins relying so heavily on special teams, Crawford may have some valuable input. The last name I'll add to the list is already signed by the Detroit Red Wings. Rumor has it that the Penguins covet Babcock and he would like to coach Sidney Crosby. At the very least, rumors of Babcock looming over the new coach's shoulder will add a level of pressure that will hopefully make the new coach all the more dedicated and focused.

Ultimately, it is a fruitless effort to contemplate the new coach until a new general manager has been named if the rumors from management that the new GM will be involved in the selection process are to be believed. But, in addition to naming a new head coach for a team in transition, the new GM is going to have to assemble the team and orchestrate that transition, determining just how big it will be, deciding who will stay and who will get the axe.

So, Let's Talk Trades

The one trade that I, both as a logical thinker and a fan of the Penguins, want to see completed in one way, shape or form, is Kris Letang for Victor Hedman. And I wouldn't mind sending along a couple of mid to late round picks and a prospect either. Please bear with the purely hypothetical situation. Once his new contract kicks in, Letang is on the books for $7.25million with a limited no-trade clause for the foreseeable future. Hedman is a $4million cap hit over the next three years, a savings of $3.25million – imagine: that could be Brandon Sutter's salary or a shiny new free agent. Moreover, Hedman fills a big hole, quite literally. With Brooks Orpik suffering what some are calling a potentially career-ending injury and Niskanen potentially gone through free agency, Hedman is a physical, shot-blocking defenseman that can still move his body, and the puck, pretty darn well.

Of course, nobody said Steve Yzerman wants to move Hedman, nor that he would want Letang. But, with Pittsburgh being a hockey hot-bed and Tampa being a relative purgatory, the perception of the two players may not be reality. I've heard a number of opinions go both directions, but I want to hear more. Perhaps the Penguins could suggest that Letang would make a good addition because of his abilities to move the puck up the ice, specifically to Steven Stamkos in the absence of Martin St. Louis. Tampa could also make up for some of the physical loss of Hedman by resigning Ryan Callahan. The deal makes a lot of sense to me if I'm the new GM of the Penguins. However, this is just something that I decided to throw against the wall and try to make stick. While Letang has been mentioned as a potential trade chip, it's just as likely that pigs grow wings and fly tomorrow as would be for this trade to actually happen.

You already know the Pens have been after a right winger for Sidney Crosby. It's probably not necessary, because he makes anyone he plays with better. And management may not have a whole lot of faith in an aging Pascal Dupuis when he could be replaced by a younger and less expensive player in all likelyhood. The trick would be making the trade.

Other players, such as James Neal, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Paul Martin have been talked about as the biggest potential movers, so it seems Crosby and Malkin are safe for now. Neal has a number of years left on his deal that pays $5million anually. Fleury and Martin both make the same $5million figure, but their contracts expire at the end of 2014-15. Does it make sense to capitalize on at least one of these players while they can still bring a good return rather than risk losing out on resigning them at the end of the season? Could they be afforded? Because of the uncertainty on defense, it makes sense to keep Paul Martin, at least this year. He has been, and will be, one of the few stable points of the team. Fleury, I believe, should be traded. In no way should he be blamed for their loss to the Rangers this year. Two shut-outs, even against a tired team, means he did half of the work for the team. Despite his improvement this year, Fleury has shown a tendency towards checking out for big games. So, if Fleury is traded, what should he be traded for? I would suggest picks. Flower is probably still worth a 1st round pick, maybe more. A veteran like Jonas Hiller could be brought in at a lower amount, and hopefully transition into the era of Tristian Jarry.

Oh, One Last Thing: the Draft and Free Agency

Draft Status

For the most part, I'll leave the draft analysis to the left-overs of Ray Shero's staff. One commenter has the Penguins selecting Sonny Milano, a left wing and USHL product. Milano profiles as a power-forward that plays in front of the net, which makes him an attractive option. If a Shero scholar is in charge of the pick and the chips fall the right way, Milano is a good bet. NESN writer Nicholas Goss suspects that the a winger is indeed the cards, but he projects Nikita Scherbak of Saskatoon will be the pick at #22 overall. Scherbak is more of a sniper. For what it's worth, Adam Kimelman of also projected the Pens to take Scherbak, but with the 25th pick. All in all, regardless of where the pick falls, it should probably be a winger.

Free Agency

Faces are certainly going to change. Let's take a look at the guys that can walk out of town if they want, and those that are still on restricted contracts.

UFAs: Jussi Jokinen, Brian Gibbons, Lee Stempniak, Zach Sill, Harry Zolnierczyk, Chuck Kobasew, Taylor Pyatt, Marcel Goc, Tanner Glass, Joe Vitale, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, Deryk Engelland, Tomas Vokoun

To save your time and mine, we'll go over a couple of these guys in passing. Quite frankly, some of them are not worth resigning. In my estimation, you can say goodbye to Harry Zolniercyzk, Lee Stempniak (unless he wants to take a major pay cut and play on the 3rd line), Chuck Kobasew, Taylor Pyatt and Marcel Goc. Zolniercyzk is fiesty, and he's got some speed, but not enough to warrant a roster spot. Stempniak looked good at times on a line with Sidney Crosby, but just about any blind dog could find a bone once in a while if he played with Sid the Kid. Kobasew, Pyatt and Goc aren't even worth glossing over characteristics. So, let's talk about the guys that matter

Jussi Jokinen – Resign him. $4million would be a good number for me, but I expect it to probably be higher. Jokinen contributes even when he's not scoring. During the post-season though, Jokinen was arguably the best player on the team. Unless the Pens could bring in Nikolai Kulemin to play on Malkin's wing, I would do everything in my power as the new GM to bring back Juicy.

Brian Gibbons – Blazing speed describes Brian Gibbons. We know he's way undersized and that makes it difficult to play against bigger players, the likes of which he saw in his short time alongside Crosby. Gibbons made a name for himself in that role, but he's more suited for 3rd or 4th line duty. For the minimal salary that he'll likely be paid, Gibbons should be brought back.

Zach Sill – Many fans say that Sill resembles a young Craig Adams. I hope they're right because he could certainly take over that role from the aging veteran. Sill provides a little bit of everything. As long as he's not expecting anything more than 4th line duty or healthy scratches, he should be brought back as well.

Tanner Glass – If you asked me when Glass was first signed, I was extremely disappointed. He fills the fighter role for the Penguins and has accounted for himself pretty well. He also works hard in banging bodies – Glass led the team in that category last year. If he's around a million, I'm slightly under that number, but he certainly helps fill the role of grittiness, so he is another player that should be brought back for bench and 4th line duty.

Joe Vitale – He seems like a younger version of Craig Adams and that's how he ought to be deployed if he's going to be retained. However, if Vitale returns, we're already looking at four different potential players for the 4th line. Spots are filling up quick and it's likely that one of the last four guys mentioned will not be coming back since they'll all likely end up as a substitute or on that 4th line.

Brooks Orpik – I love Brooks Orpik. He's everything that the Penguins need, except he's about five years too old. The 2009 version of Orpik could have even stood up to someone like Zdeno Chara. I like to remember a time when Brooks's blue eyes would pierce through a soul as he stared, unblinking. If Orpik does come back, he likely won't be worth the money that he'll be paid (and to be fair, he's earned a lot of it). Ideally, I'd like to see Brooks come back in a 3rd line role to mentor someone younger for a couple of seasons at a lower pay rate. Sadly, probably not going to happen.

Matt Niskanen – Niskanen will likely be another player that we'll have to leave behind. He produced well enough last season that he probably played himself out of Pittsburgh. It's unfortunate, because Niskanen is the type of player capable of bridging a gap, especially in age, from the old guard (Orpik, Engelland, Scuderi) to the new (Maatta, Pouliot, Dumoulin). Unfortunately, many projections have Niskanen making upward of $5million. That's likely well more than the Penguins can afford.

Derek Engelland – Rumor is that the Edmonton Oilers are looking at Engelland as a potential FA signing. Engelland is a heart and soul type of player, capable of working on the wing, or on defense. He's certainly not afraid to fight or throw his body around either. If the Pens want versatility, grit, character, and a nasty guy to play against, then they need to resign Engelland. A player that can fill in at two different positions and strike fear into an opponent at the same time ought to be able to make a living. Unfortunately, it sounds like Engelland will get more money and playing time somewhere else this off-season. To that, I say congratulations, Engo. Job well done.

Tomas Vokoun – Vokoun only really gets a mention here out of respect. He's had a very good career and played admirably for the Pens last season. When he was brought in to be the backup at $2million a couple of years ago, I was extremely happy. Now that the Penguins have some organizational depth at the goal-tending position, it is probably best for the team if Vokoun retires or moves on to another city.

RFAs: Brandon Sutter, Jayson Megna, Simon Despres, Philip Samuelsson

Brandon Sutter – He's played reasonably well as Jordan Staal's replacement and we're probably not going to find anyone better to fill his role at a similar price. A small raise is probably in order, but I fully expect Sutter to be back next season, in the ballpark of $3.25-3.5million. Hopefully he'll have some better and more consistent line-mates.

Jayson Megna – The young man provided a level of spark to the offense when called upon this past season, but is more suited towards 4th line duty for the time being with a potential towards the 3rd. He's got speed similar to Gibbons, but has more size. For the price, the Pens will probably bring him back and it's a wise decision to do so as long as they can provide Megna with a full slate of games on one level or another.

Simon Despres – I've been waiting, you've been waiting, and now is the time. Unless his rights are traded, it's time for the 23 year old to step into a full time role. It seems like he's been around forever, doesn't it? Despres still has plenty of room to grow too. He's a big boy that has both offensive and physical potential. He's best suited for a 3rd line role in 2014-15, but may be forced into more minutes. However, that may not be such a bad thing for his development, which has been a bit stunted.

Philip Samuelsson – Ulfy's boy doesn't play with quite the same physicality, but he's got a streak. He's not considered a top of the line prospect, but he picked up a few games last year and could potentially see a few more this season. His contract, given the minimal cap hit, should be retained.

And Finally, Potential Free Agent Targets

Allow me to preface this section by saying that these are players that I would like to see the Penguins go after, not that they necessarily fit into the salary cap plans. With each player, I've tried to target a specific need for them so that you can imagine the role they would fill if given the job.

Jean-Sebastian Giguere ($1.5mil) – He's won a Stanley Cup, and he can still get jiggy when called upon to do so. I can't help but think that his calming influence helped Semyon Varlamov conjur up an excellent season. He's the type of player that the Pens were looking for when they signed Vokoun.

Brian Boyle ($1.7mil) – Wouldn't that big fellow look nice bruising bodies on our fourth line? He may not have a whole lot of speed to keep up with the rest of the smaller Penguins, but he's certainly an intimidating character that could play the smash-mouth style of game our team needs.

Daniel Carcillo ($875k) – Similar to Tanner Glass or Derek Engelland, Carcillo enjoys the physical game. His salary is low enough to take a flier. He's also a former draft pick of the Penguins, so he's got an organizational tie. I haven't seen Carcillo play in a while, so he may not be best suited for 4th line minutes, he may need to simply quit the game. But, he's definitely still capable in the fisticuffs department.

Dustin Penner ($2mil) – Can you tell that I'm interested in big bodies? Penner, like Boyle, may not have the speed that the Penguins tend to employ with their game. However, Penner is big enough to park in front of the net or work in dirty areas. Perhaps Penner could even be Crosby's winger if Dupuis doesn't return healthy, but I'd envision Penner as the physical element on a 3rd line with Sutter and a speedster.

Nikolai Kulemin ($2.8mil) – He did well alongside Evgeni Malkin as Russia collected gold at the IIHF World Championship, and if the Penguins fail to resign Jussi Jokinen, Kulemin would make a pretty fair replacement in my estimation, and at a cheaper price too.

Holy shit, you made it! The end! Here you are, congratulations! No, in all seriousness, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this article. The last thing I want to present you is my version of the 2014-2015 Penguins. I think they're pretty good.

Thanks for Reading!

-Brock Wyant

The content expressed in fanposts does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff here at FanPosts are opinions expressed by fans of various teams throughout the league but may be more Pittsburgh-centric for obvious reasons.

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