The Penguins 2022 bootcamp will not be as dazzling because the 2021 version of bootcamp.
A 12 months in the past, it remained to be seen who would play a place as franchise columnists Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin get better from low season surgical procedures. The way forward for Malkin and all-star Chris Letang was removed from sure as they have been getting into the ultimate 12 months of their earlier contracts.
No such questions loom over the penguins on the camp’s opening Thursday. A minimum of not on the identical degree.
The penguins are in a comparatively steady spot as they put together for the fifty fifth season of the franchise. However there are authentic questions to look at in going to coaching camp.
1. What are they doing with all these defenders?
In 72 video games final season, Penguin defender Marcus Peterson scored 19 factors (2 targets, 17 assists).
On July 13, on the primary day of this low season NHL free agent signing interval, Ron Hextal famous he had 9 NHL-caliber defensive males and admitted a quite simple truism.
“We actually will not have 9 on the opening record.”
Hextall remedied that surplus just a few weeks later by making a pair of offers including defenders Jeff Petrie and Ty Smith to the combo and giving the Penguins a… 9 protection.
Smith is exempt from waivers and might be assigned to Wilkes Barr/Scranton of the American Hockey League (AHL) with none purple tape, however there are nonetheless a bunch of infractions that should be resolved, if for no different motive than to offer some flexibility with the wage cap.
2. Will any younger striker lastly have an opportunity?
Penguins striker Valtteri Postinen appeared within the Nationwide Hockey League recreation final season.
Throughout his end-of-season press convention in Might, Hextall urged that a few of the group’s youthful strikers resembling Philip Hallander, Valtteri Postinen and Sam Boleyn may compete for a spot on the roster getting into the 2022-23 season.
With veterans like Evan Rodrigues and Brian Boyle gone, it seems that there are some openings within the decrease ranks of the entrance ranks of the Penguins that the workforce has been unable to refill as a consequence of wage cap restrictions.
The chances of entry contracts are at all times low cost choices for managing these stations, and the penguins appear to have some viable choices as defined by Hextall.
However will they ever get a authentic probability to take action? Like many coaches, Mike Sullivan has been sluggish at occasions to belief the inexperienced newbie whereas selecting to depend on tried and true veterans.
However as this season enters the penguins could haven’t any different choices however to show to the youngsters prematurely.
3. When will Tristan Gary re-sign?
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In 58 video games final season, Penguin goalkeeper Tristan Jarry scored 34-18-6.
Cease us when you’ve heard this earlier than.
An important a part of the franchise’s fortunes is getting into the ultimate 12 months of his contract and nobody is guessing when (or if) he’ll re-sign.
After going by means of a season stuffed with uncertainty relating to the contractual states of Homeowners and Letang (in addition to striker Brian Rust), the Penguins have already got one main query mark on that entrance this season. However boy, is it large.
27-year-old Gary is an unrestricted free agent suspended in the summertime of 2023 and the penguins should determine if he is value a profitable multi-year contract.
On the floor, it looks like a no brainer. He has been an All-Star twice. And in contrast to the events the place they’ve determined to separate from earlier starters Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray, they haven’t any viable inner choice to interchange Gary.
However given his struggles within the post-season – the 2021 playoffs particularly – it is truthful to surprise if Gary deserves to have a lot of a future for the franchise.
4. Can the guts keep wholesome?
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In 41 video games final season, Penguin striker Yevgeny Malkin scored 42 factors (20 targets, 22 assists).
Final season, Crosby (15) and Malkin (37) mixed to overlook a 52-player recreation as a consequence of well being points. Letang has been fairly persistent, solely lacking 4 matches as a consequence of Covid-19. However he has a protracted medical chart from numerous illnesses that he suffered earlier in his profession.
All three are of their mid-30s and key complementing items as forwards Jeff Carter (37) in addition to defenders Petrie (34) and Brian Dumoulin (30) are all within the again place 9 occasions as nicely.
This is among the oldest groups within the NHL. And whereas the dedication of gamers to stay in elite standing can’t be questioned, nobody ever beats time.
5. Are they actually nonetheless competing?
Captain Sidney Crosby and the Penguins have not gained the Stanley Cup since 2017.
The three most up-to-date Stanley Cup banners exist because of the efforts of Crosby, Malkin, and Letang. If they’d by no means given start to a different one, there could be no disgrace in that Simply having three.
However they nonetheless contemplate themselves authentic Stanley Cup contenders. This can proceed to be the purpose of the penguins so long as this trio is on the ice.
However with them not even profitable a playoff tour for the previous 4 years, their collective ages and the presence of actual contenders just like the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche, in addition to the rise of groups just like the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers, do the Penguins stay one of many NHL’s elite franchises over the ice?
Administration invested a big quantity of capital in conserving the core collectively this summer season as a result of all individuals believed one other championship might be achieved with this group.
However religion doesn’t at all times replicate actuality.
Comply with the penguins all season lengthy.
Seth Rorabo is a Tribune Evaluate author. You may contact Seth by way of e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by way of Twitter .