Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What the Penguins really lost....And gained

The Penguins, despite losing two of the biggest prize forwards of the free agency season in Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone, are still a better team on paper right now than they were 12 months ago at this time. It's hard to believe, but think about it, it's true.

Think in terms of personnel and regular season standings...What was last year's 2nd place Eastern Conference team ended up scoring 240 goals and yielded a total of 212.

That team had some incredible contributions-- like Evgeni Malkin's 47 goal, 56 assist (106 point) season and remarkable work by Ty Conklin (18-8-5, 2.51 GAA, .923 save %)-- but both those players were thrust into bigger roles by injuries to Sidney Crosby (who missed 29 games) and Marc-Andre Fleury (who only appeared in 35 contests).

--Just from taking a look at the regular season contributions from all the player the Pens lost and it amounts to 70 goals (lead by Malone's 27 and 9 a piece from Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen).
--They've replaced that with a combined 42 goals scored last season from their three biggest free agent signings (Miroslav Satan and Rusty Fedotenko with 16 a piece and Matt Cooke with 10). We'll say right here that this blog shuts down if Satan plays a mostly full season and can't improve on 16 goals.

So where will the rest come from? Jordan Staal only scored 12 in the regular season (but got 6 in 20 post-season games), Crosby could create more offense in up to 29 more games than last season. Other young players like Tyler Kennedy (10 goals in 55 games in his rookie campaign) and Kris Letang (6 goals in 63 games) figure to naturally progress and continue to increase their production. Throw in a potential sleeper in the mix like newcomer Janne Pesonen or Pascal Dupuis (who contributed 2 goals in 16 reg. season games with the Pens) and the 240 goals scored number could easily be matched, if not exceeded.

Of course the natural disclaimer is that this is all on paper and it is July 9th, not January or even October. Plans change and the game of hockey is too fluid to write anything in ink at this point.

The popular vibe right now is the Penguins took a big hit in early July, and to be fair losing the likes of Hossa, Malone, Conklin and the other does hurt. But it doesn't necessarily lessen a team that returns 7 of its 8 top regular season scorers from last season.

And, how's this for perspective.....Of those seven players, five of them--Malkin, Crosby, Ryan Whitney, Staal and Max Talbot-- will be 24 years old or younger when the puck drops on opening night.

1 comment:


1) Have to agree. The Penguins have to still be considered the team to beat in the Eastern conference.
2) Other teams may have improved, but if you compare personel they compare favourably with the other 14 teams. No one has better forwrds, and if M-A F plays like in the playoffs, they will eclipse the habs as the #1 seed!