The Pittsburgh Penguins have made it to the playoffs for the past 13 NHL season. Pittsburgh hopes to make it back to the postseason for a 14th straight season, but it won’t be easy.
Forward Phil Kessel was traded to the Arizona Coyotes and defenseman Olli Maatta was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks.
General Manager Jim Rutherford is looking to free up more cap space before the 2019-2020 season begins whether that is trading defenseman Jack Johnson, forward Bryan Rust, forward Patric Hornqvist, or defenseman Justin Schultz.
Defenseman Marcus Pettersson and forward Zach Aston-Reese are both not signed yet for the 2019-2020 season.
The projected lines for the 2019-2020 season as of right now will be: Jared McCann-Sidney Crosby-Jake Guentzel, Alex Galhenyuk-Evgeni Malkin-Dominik Kahun, Dominik Simon-Nick Bjugstad-Patric Hornqvist, and Brandon Tanev-Teddy Blueger-Bryan Rust.
Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang, Juuso Riikola-Justin Schultz, and Jack Johnson-Eric Gudbranson will be the defensive pairings. Once Pettersson is signed, he will go into Riikola’s spot. However, there is great chance that Juuso Riikola could be a starter this season.
Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith will be the goalies. Tristan Jarry is on a one-way deal this season and he is currently the third goalie on the roster. The Penguins will most likely not carry three goalies on the roster. They are probably going to trade Jarry to a team that needs a goalie.
Some of the teams that he could potentially be traded to is the Detroit Red Wings, the Buffalo Sabres, the San Jose Sharks, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Minnesota Wild.
I expect the Pittsburgh Penguins to be a playoff team once again next season. They play in a tough Metropolitan Division, but Pittsburgh has the championship pedigree with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang.
What is also good is that Head Coach Mike Sullivan signed a four-year contract extension just last week.
General Manager Jim Rutherford will also be around for the next three years as well.
The biggest problem with this team heading into the regular season will be the assistant coaches. Mark Recchi wasn’t exactly very good with the power play. Current Arizona Coyotes Head Coach Rick Tocchet was with this team for a couple of seasons and he was a terrific assistant head coach for Pittsburgh.
Jacques Martin is an okay assistant and it appeared as if he was going to take a head coaching job somewhere else, but Martin never did.
Mike Buckley doesn’t have the same influence as goalie coach like Mike Bales did. Bales was one of the reasons why the Carolina Hurricanes had a bunch of over achievers at goalie this past season. They were in the Eastern Conference Finals this past season.
As for the Pittsburgh Penguins, they were swept in the first-round against the New York Islanders.
I would not be surprised to see another epic Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby battle in the 2020 postseason. It didn’t have the same feel last season when these two players didn’t face off.
As of right now, the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins might be the best rivalry in the NHL right now.