KEY ADDITIONS G Ty
Conklin, D Darryl Sydor, RW Petr Sykora
KEY LOSSES RW
Michel Ouellet, G Jocelyn Thibault
A year ago the
Penguins were coming off a conference-worst 58-point season, couldn't get
financing for a new arena and thus didn't know how long they would stay in
Pittsburgh. Now, after a dramatic 47-point jump in their record and an
agreement that will put them in new downtown digs for the 2010-11 season, no
other NHL team has a more promising future--or a more daunting young core.
The league's best
player, center Sidney Crosby, is signed through 2012-13, as is offensive
defenseman Ryan Whitney, an All-Star-to-be. Explosive center Evgeni Malkin, the
league's top rookie in 2006-07, precocious 19-year-old winger Jordan Staal (29
goals) and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, 22, the No.�1 draft pick in 2003, are
all years from unrestricted free agency. Consider that the Penguins have a
half-dozen other very able 25-and-under players, and the team, without even
having won a playoff round, has the look of a dynasty-in-waiting. Says G.M. Ray
Shero, "This is not a one-year window for us."
The team's young
defense can be exploited, but with the presence of some skilled, battle-worn
forwards-- Mark Recchi, Gary Roberts and Petr Sykora--to help lead, Pittsburgh
could go deep into next spring's playoffs.
22-48-12 (15th in East)
KEY ADDITIONS C
Daniel Briere, LW Scott Hartnell, D Jason Smith, LW Joffrey Lupul D�Kimmo
KEY LOSSES LW Todd
Fedoruk, D Joni Pitkanen, LW�Mike York
A few weeks ago
second-year G.M. Paul Holmgren was reflecting on his team: "I think we sort
of fell behind the eight ball the last few years." To say the least. After
a first-round playoff loss in 2005-06, Philadelphia opened last season 3-12-2
en�route to its worst record in 40 seasons.