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Lee C.J. Sobotka The Hockey Writers

Published on Sunday, May 10, 2015





State of the Penguins – Part 3: Offense

Now that the season is behind us and we’ve had some time to let the dust settle, I’d like to offer my take as to where the Pittsburgh Penguins currently are and where they may be going. This is part 3 of a 3-part series.

Part 1 | Part 2

Over at, they have the Pens current salary cap situation.  This will be useful to reference throughout the off-season.

The Forwards

Sidney Crosby (8yrs, 8.7mil per)

28-56-84, 77 Games

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will have to improve their playoff performances this season.(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will have to improve their playoff performances this season.(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Team captain and perennial “Best Player In The World,” Sidney Crosby is a star in every sense of the word.  Signed long term at a fantastic discount, Crosby will be the captain of the Penguins for may years to come.

My Verdict: Best Player In The World, Top 3

Evgeni Malkin (9yrs, 9.5mil per)

28-42-70, 69 Games

Malkin ended last season in one of the worst slumps of his career, but don’t expect it to last.  Malkin remains one of the top talents in the world and has the ability to single-handedly take over a game through his incredible puck possession skills.

My Verdict: Top 3, 2nd Line Center

Patric Hornqvist (3yrs, 4.25mil per)

25-26-51, 64 Games

Need someone to go to the net? Hornqvist is your guy. Good things happen every time he’s on the ice as he is one of the few players on the team who is unafraid to consistently crash the net.  Acquired in the James Neal trade, Hornqvist fills a more “hard-working” role than Neal was able to provide.

My Verdict: Top 6

Chris Kunitz (2yrs, 3.85mil per)

17-23-40, 74 Games

Kunitz has been a fantastic player for the Pens, playing mostly on Crosby’s line.  However, all good things must come to an end, and Kunitz’s career is beginning to show wear and tear.  He lost some speed and now finds himself out of position more often than not.  I’m not saying his play can’t improve, but he’s entering the twilight of his career and needs to be viewed as such.

My Verdict: Bottom 6

David Perron (1yr, 3,812,500)

12-10-22, 43 Games

Perron started out like a house on fire for the Pens, drawing humorous stories about how happy he was to get out of Edmonton.  He cooled off considerably, along with the rest of the team, at the end of the year; but he is bound to rebound to become a better player with an off-season in the organization.

My Verdict: Top 6

Pascal Dupuis (2 yrs, 3.75mil per)

6-5-11, 16 Games

Everyone loves Dupuis, and his loss last season was a serious blow to the team – insider the locker room and out.  He’s getting older and it’s not wrong to question his ability to come back, but his blood clot issues are not like your regular hockey injury.  Once that medical condition is under control, expect Dupuis to play well upon his return after such a long rest.

My Verdict: Top 6

Brandon Sutter (1yr, 3.3mil)

21-12-43, 80 Games

Is Sutter on the hot seat?  There was lots of talk and speculation that he would be traded. However, his numbers show him to be quite valuable in his 3rd line center role. A 20-goal scorer, his work on the PK and his ability to produce amid an ever-changing lineup, Sutter remains a big piece of the puzzle.

My Verdict: 3rd Line Center, Bottom 6

Nick Spaling (1yr, 2.2mil)

9-18-27, 82 Games

Spaling isn’t a bad player, he’s just a bad contract. The “also” player in the James Neal trade, Spaling didn’t really stand out much during the season.  This can be expected from a bottom 6 forward, but not one making 2.2 million a year.  Unless his play improves, he’ll be on his way out the door.

My Verdict: Bottom 6

Beau Bennett (RFA)

4-8-12, 49 Games

I don’t want to say anything too stinging about Beau Bennett, as it may injure him. All kidding aside, Bennett is a vexing player to watch. He has obvious talent, but plays a weak game and is made of glass.  I expect the Pens to qualify him, but he’s on the hot seat as to how long his future with the Penguins will be. Still, it’s not like the Pens have depth at the position, so…

My Verdict: Top 9

Maxim Lapierre (UFA)

0-2-2, 35 Games

Don’t let the statistics fool you, Lapierre isn’t on the roster for regular season games, he’s there to harass a playoff opponent. Over the course of a series, he gets under the opponents skin, and that’s a trait missing from the Pens since the departure of Matt Cooke.  I believe the Pens NEED to bring him back for next season.

My Verdict: Bottom 6

Steve Downie (UFA)

14-14-28, 72 Games

Downie takes WAY too many penalties.

My Verdict: Let Walk

Blake Comeau (UFA)

16-15-31, 61 Games

Comeau played well in the role he was asked to play, and even went on scoring streaks that seemed to be above and beyond him.  He’s earned a shot to return and try to build off of last season.

My Verdict: Top 9

Daniel Winnik (UFA)

2-7-9, 21 Games

Winnik is a valuable player with the ability to play center or wing, up and down the lineup.  While I would like to see Winnik return, he may be too expensive to re-sign.  Still, better to spend money on Winnik now instead of trading assets for a guy like him at the deadline.

My Verdict: Bottom 9

In the end, we have lines that look like:

Dupuis / Crosby / Hornqvist

Perron / Malkin / Bennett

Comeau / Sutter / Winnik

Lappierre / Spaling / Kunitz


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