Hello. How are you guys? It's been awhile since we've spoken to you on our blog regarding hockey thoughts. Today is the day we break the silence. How has your summer been? We're doing great, thank you for asking.
My goal with today's post is to the preview the 2018-2019 Pittsburgh Penguins as I once did when I wrote the infamous post, "Could This be the Year" way back on August 8th of 2015. It was indeed the year, as the Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks in six games to win their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history. Today we're going to delve into the Penguins' additions and subtractions, as well as preview how big those additions / subtractions truly were, in my opinion, and since I'm writing that's what matters most. Me. We're also going to give you a preview of what's to come on the blog this year, the return of podcasts, our famous Gamedays, and much more.
I can't tell you how many years I've written about hockey now but it's definitely getting up there. I'm pretty sure we're entering our fifth season here at Pens of Anarchy but if you count HeyyyyyFannnssss and our old Weebly website, we're easily into the eighth or ninth season of doing this. Damn, time flies when you win all the time.
Speaking of winning, if you live under a rock or have anything lower than an iPhone 4S or Cable TV, you may not have noticed that the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup this past year. That's right, Tom Wilson is a Stanley Cup Champion and we're sure as hell not happy about it. The good news is that the Capitals will not have the satisfaction of raising their first Stanley Cup banner to the rafters against the Penguins, thanks to the geniuses that schedule hockey games. The Caps will do so against the Boston Bruins to Pittsburgh the day after to play us here in our home opener. Thank you, @NHL.
So I guess right now would be a good time to mention that the Capitals beat the Penguins in six games last year to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. There's numerous reasons the Penguins lost, but mainly and the guys at POA will roast me for saying this, but the Capitals were the better team. It didn't help that Kris Letang was abysmal and hardly noticeable unless he was turning a puck over, or that Matt Murray's five-hole was wider than the Fort Pitt Tunnel. Either way, that was last year and while I'm still mad, I'll consider moving on, eventually.
Onward to the 2018-2019 season. Let's start with who the Penguins added after July 1st.
(Image via the Score)
It had been rumored for roughly a week leading up to the July 1st free agency period, but it became a reality early on July 1st, the Penguins locked up defenseman Jack Johnson to a 5 year, $16.25M contract, which according to math is roughly $3.25M per season AAV. The term is long for someone 31 years old, yes, but the money isn't bad for someone whose main job is going to be just eating minutes and not playing like a dumbass. It will also help that Johnson is not going to be in the Penguins top four, at least for now.
If Johnson's sole reason of being here is to make sure Kris Letang and other members of the Penguins defense play less minutes per night so they can be more effective in the long run, sign me up. As mentioned above, sure the five year term is rather long, however, the window to win is now. In five years, Crosby and Malkin will be past their primes, their window will be closed, and the contract won't matter as the rebuild will in full effect. Plus, buyouts exist for a reason. Johnson was once a 3rd overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft, two spots behind none other than Sidney Crosby so the pedigree is high. And although Johnson hasn't had a good NHL season stats wise since probably the 2014-2015 season in Columbus where he notched 40 points (8 goals, 32 assists) there is still reason to believe he could be a decent addition. We could dive into how bad his analytical stats are, however, I'd like to see him play a few games in a Penguin jersey with this team and coaching staff before I pass judgement. We've seen the Penguins turn around guys with high pedigree, see Schultz, Justin and Oleksiak, Jamie.
Long story short, I'm a fan of the Johnson signing.
DAD IS BACK AJDJJKFJAFJ (goes and chugs a gallon bleach). Let me just say this, Cullen is not your dad, or any of the Penguins' dads. Stop. The Penguins brought Matt Cullen back on a one year, $650,000 deal. It's important to note that Matt Cullen royally screwed the Penguins last year by keeping them waiting on his decision like he was Lebron or something, only to inform them just before camp that he was going to the Minnesota Wild on a one year deal because it was close to home. If you can't recall that, do you remember the brief period of time before the Penguins traded for Riley Sheahan and Greg McKegg was your third line center followed by THE Carter Rowney. Yikes.
Nonetheless, Cullen finds himself back in the black and gold for the second time in his career going for his fourth Stanley Cup. He's a natural center but can slide to wing if need be and with the Penguins having 69,000 centers on their roster, he will likely be utilized as such, at least for now. Cullen, now 41, has 63 points in 154 games played with the Penguins. My thought: Your Dad jokes for Matt Cullen make me dislike him, however for $650,000 for one year isn't bad. Low risk, potentially high reward. Looking at the past three seasons, the Penguins won two Cups while Cullen was here and zero when he was not. It is what it is.
No Daniel Sprong is not new to the Penguins, considering he's been here since the awful days of former Head Coach Mike Johnston, however, Rutherford said that Sprong will play a full season this year. A full season of someone who actually isn't afraid to shoot the puck and knows who to create offense, sign me up. You can rip Sprong for his lack of defensive game, which is probably why Sullivan doesn't seem to be a big fan, however if I get the chance to watch someone play a fast, skilled game over watching someone like Tom Kuhnhackl block shots and display 'grit', I'd take watching Sprong everyday.
Seriously look at this. -> Video courtesy of the WBS Penguins.
Since being drafted in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft, Sprong has only appeared in 26 NHL games, tallying four goals and one assist. A full season in the NHL would do wonders for Sprong and the Penguins too. My thought: If Conor Sheary (who probably fell as I was typing this) had a full-time spot on Crosby's line, Daniel Sprong sure looks like he can get there too. Play this man. I predict that if Sprong is a regular, he will tally 20 goals this season.
No idea who the hell Derek Grant is but the Penguins signed him to a one year, $650,000 deal this offseason. Grant, 28, played for Anaheim last year and tallied 12 goals and 12 assists in 66 games with the Ducks. My thought: I have no idea who this guy is but he scored more goals last season than Tom Kuhnhackl and Carter Rowney combined so I can't see him being any worse than those guys.
This one is interesting, I thought Jimmy Hayes had fallen off the face of the earth, but I guess falling to Pittsburgh for one year, $650,000 is essentially the same thing. Hayes, 28, used to be good. You may remember him being a member of the Florida Panthers way back when. That when was way back in 2015-2016 where he tallied a career high 19 goal, 35 point season. He then joined the Boston Bruins the following season and put up 13 goals and 16 assists there. He played for the Devils these last two seasons but sucked so it's not really a talking point.
My thought: a guy that's 28, used to be able to score and isn't Tom Kuhnhackl or Carter Rowney, why not? Even if he's just a depth guy, it seems like a solid signing. Cash me ousssssideeee.
Not a free agent signing or anything but I felt the need to put this in here. Many of you that live inside of the Pittsburgh hockey bubble and don't follow other teams, stats, etc. truly don't know what you have in Derick Brassard. Sure, he was pretty unproductive upon joining the Penguins last year and once he did get hot, he got hurt, but a full year of Derick Brassard should do wonders for the Penguins.
Brassard is a defensive center, that can also slide to wing (you know, because the Penguins have 5,300 centers) so the versatility is there. In addition, Brassard can score too. Before joining the Penguins last year, he tallied 18 goals and 20 assists with the Ottawa Senators, who really only have Erik Karlsson on their team (at least for now) so it was fair to say that he carried that team to an extent. Brassard will likely play on a line with Kessel this season, at least to start the year. Should he shift to wing at some point, God knows where he might actually slot in, however he's going to be a big part of the Penguins plan this upcoming season. Buckle up.
Courtesy of Hotnoodles87
Now let's get to who the Penguins got rid of this offseason:
Matt Hunwick - byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Conor Sheary - byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, (he probably fell when I was typing this)
Both went to Buffalo for a conditional 2019 4th round pick.
Side note for those of you that thought I had an irrational agenda against Conor Sheary. You are 100% correct. Conor Sheary was bad and if you thought he was a good player, your opinion was bad as well. Conor Sheary's Penguin resume consisted of one play.
There it is.
Sheary can thank Sidney Crosby for winning the faceoff clean right to him for the shot to help win Game Two. It also didn't help that Sheary is dating Mike Sullivan's niece, that's for sure. Time after time Sheary got a shot to play with Crosby and even down the stretch in the playoffs when the Pens needed a spark and it was the perfect time to insert Daniel Sprong or someone / something else, Sheary remained a constant, despite struggling to generate any form of offense. Conor Sheary, I will hardly miss you. I'm looking forward to the post-Sheary era.
Tom Kuhnhackl - byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee - he is now the face of the New York Islanders after John Tavares left for Toronto.
Carter Rowney - byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee - side note, Rowney got PAIIIIIDDDD by the Ducks, 3 years - $3.4M. Yikessssss. He had two goals last year!??!?!
- Bryan Rust inked a 4 year, $14,000,000 deal this offseason. That's $3.5M per season AAV. Last year, Rust tallied 38 points in 69 (nice) games, a career high.
- Center Riley Sheahan signed a 1 year, $2.1M contract extension with the Penguins. That's honestly a steal for Sheahan.
- Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak signed a 3 year, $2.137M contract extension this offseason. A little high for my liking but with the current coaching regime, I think it'll end up being a solid deal.
- This is the final season of Carl Hagelin's contract with the Penguins, he's owed $4M through the 2018-2019 season.
- Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith will battle it out in camp to see who the Penguins backup goalie is going to be.
- The Penguins also signed wingers Daniel Sprong and Dominik Simon to 2 year deals with an AAV of $750,000 through the 2020 season. Both are one way deals, meaning to be sent to Wilkes-Barre they would have to clear waivers. AKA, they're both stuck in the NHL this year.
- The Penguins have a lot of center depth going into the season, so I wouldn't be shocked if a guy like Derick Brassard would get moved in exchange for another position of need.
- A full season of Daniel Sprong and Derick Brassard (if he isn't traded) will be fun to watch. They're both pretty good at hockey.
- For those of you that are new, we conduct most of our business on Twitter, hit us with a follow, @PensOfAnarchy.
- As for line combinations, we'll know more once camp starts. However, I will say the Penguins bottom six is a lot deeper than it was, at least offensive wise, going into this year.
Overall, I believe the Penguins addressed their needs by adding a defenseman, whether Johnson works out remains to be seen, however I see more upside with him than bad. The Penguins also brought Matt Cullen back for one more year, at the very least I think he'll tally 10 goals and 25 points, not bad for a 4th liner than can shift up and down the lineup. I don't know what they'll do for the Penguins however, Jimmy Hayes and Derek Grant are both intriguing names to watch as they've actually performed at the NHL level. They'll definitely be solid fill ins going down the stretch. I am also looking forward to Derick Brassard and Patric Hornqvist playing together. I doubt they'll be on the same line, however their play styles are fairly similar, and they both make their opponents rather mad. I am a fan of this. Going into this season, the Penguins seem, at least on paper, a lot deeper than any of their previous teams.
The players have already gathered in camp for informal workouts and we're just a week away from camp getting underway. The first on-ice workout is scheduled for Friday, September 14th and the first preseason game is scheduled for Tuesday, September 18th in Buffalo. Buckle up because this could be the year.
Old Posts from our site, heyyyyyfannnssss (4/11-2/15). Cute name, but impossible to remember.