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Monday Pens Points: The Mike Johnston Era Begins

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At 7:08 pm tonight the Mike Johnston era begins. What is the level the Pens need to reach to consistently compete against elite NHL teams? Is an enforcer on your roster really a deterrent? Iggy finds chemistry in Denver. Johansen to KHL? Maple Leafs worst franchise in NA pro sports. USA Hockey top prospects game on 9/25.

Jamie Sabau

I had some issues with the site all day. I ended up saving the draft but not publishing it. Sorry this is really late in the day, but we have lots of good links to share.

The Penguins open the 2014 preseason today at 7:08 pm against the Detroit Red Wings. In the exhibition opener we'll get our first glimpses of rookie coach Mike Johnston's system, which by many accounts is less rigid and less strict than Dan Bylsma's.

Here is an interesting article from Penguins Sauce about the three teams that won the last 5 Stanley Cups - the Kings, Blackhawks and Bruins, and what is the level the Pens need to reach again to be able to consistently content with teams like these.

A good article from Fear The Fin about the role of an enforcer, inspired by John Scott declaring himself a valuable contributor to the San Jose Sharks.

Jarome Iginla, now in Denver, is said to be developing good chemistry with Matt Duchene. Good for him. I hope he finally has a real shot at the Cup.

What's going on with Ryan Johansen? Columbus Dispatch reports the Jackets still have the same offer to him, 2 years, $6 million, basically take it or leave it. Reportedly his agent Kurt Overhardt went back to them with a 2-year, $9.4M counter-offer (more than $2M down from their initial ask), but the team is thought to be unlikely to negotiate on that. While they feel for the Jackets, NHL GMs questioned the decision to go public with the offers made to the player.

Meanwhile, there are rumors that KHL clubs are starting to throw offers to Johansen. I haven't seen anything firm other than Sergei Fedorov (CSKA Moscow's GM) denying that the Red Army club has offered him a 1-year, $5M. I'm now trying to picture Johansen in Astana or Vladivostok in January. Barys is better, though. They have a fun coach.

Speaking of the KHL, I looked up the stats leaderboard today and Ilya Kovalchuk has come out of the gates red-hot, scoring 11 goals in his first 7 games. If he keeps at it, KHL's goal-scoring mark of 53 that stood for half a century could fall. Oh, hai there Jonathan Cheechoo, currently #3 in scoring.

ESPN the Magazine's annual ranking of professional sports franchises in North America is out and the Toronto Maple Leafs are dead last at #122. The Pens are #25 (behind the Pirates). It's an odd list, to say the least.

Adam Gretz projects Stanley Cup contenders, pretenders, and McDaviders. The divide between Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, in the eyes of some scouts, is small-to-nonexistent. Both are thought to be generational prospects about to lift two of the worst teams in the NHL (this is the one year I will fervently hope the Flyers make the playoffs).

If you'd like to see one of these two guys play, set your DVRs for 7 pm EST this Thursday - the annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game featuring 42 top American prospects eligible for the 2015 draft will be televised on the NHL Network. Dan Bylsma will serve in an analyst capacity. Jack Eichel will play on Team Grier.