Thursday, September 29, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins are a Stanley Cup team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup, and without them, they are still pretty good. Sure they lost in 7 to Tampa last season, but they know that as a team they may be one of the best in hockey. So, now that the Penguins are getting at least one of the two back, can they head back to the Stanley Cup?

Strengths: Everyone knows about Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but the Penguins have other pieces that will pay dividends this season. James Neal is a big piece that the Pens acquired last trade deadline, and he should be able to get much better on the wing of either Crosby or Malkin. The same goes with Chris Kunitz, newly acquired Steve Sullivan, Tyler Kennedy, and a host of others. They are all well known names, and they can all play at a very high level, as proven by last season. In the defense corps, it's the same situation. It's filled with great talent, and those players can carry a team, as evidenced by last season. And, they have a great goaltender in Marc Andre-Fleury, and he can carry a team to a Stanley Cup, as evidenced by 2 seasons ago. Up and down the roster, they have the talent that can carry any team, and they have it from top to bottom.

Weaknesses: It is all on keeping Geno and Crosby healthy, and that's no easy task. Even though the Penguins have proven to be just fine without them, but having them makes them an amazing team up and down. If they can stay healthy, they can win easily, but there should be no problem with the depth on this team.

Any Help Coming? There are good prospects in this organization. RW Beau Bennett has plenty of offensive talent, and do almost everything well with the puck. He needs to add strength to his frame, but he can still become a potential top 6 forward. D Simon Despres has a good combination of skill, size, and hockey IQ.  He may not play as physically as he should, but that may come with time. LW Eric Tangradi is a great power forward prospect, and he has the complete package of leadership and skill.

Outlook: This team has the potential to win a Stanley Cup, and this roster has enough depth up and down to replace almost anyone if he gets hurt. They can take anyone in the East, and almost anyone in the West. If they can stay healthy, they may very well get another Stanley Cup to add to their trophy case.

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