The Pittsburgh Penguins have unfortunately been eliminated from the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs and are now officially entering the offseason.
Usually the Pittsburgh Penguins are out on the ice at this time, but this season we get a head start on the golf course. While the players can have a few weeks off to kick back, relax and unwind after a long season, Penguins management should be thinking about getting a head start on the offseason duties.
We are a team that can stay competitive, but there is definitely some room for retooling and improvement. With free agency, the draft, and surely a flurry of trades just a short while away, let’s take a look at the list of priorities for the Penguins this summer.
1) Resign Our Own Players
The first task that the Penguins management should try to tackle is resigning our own player before stepping into free agency. The Penguins are actually in a pretty good situation this offseason when it comes to contracts. Our core does not have contract renewals this year and the only players we really need to consider resigning are the likes of Riley Sheahan, Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl, Carter Rowney and Jamie Oleksiak. Our real contract renewal problems appear amongst our minor leaguers. Once we make decisions about our core and prospects, we can move on to other tasks.
2) Upgrade our Sixth Defenceman
Matt Hunwick was signed last offseason to replace Ron Hainsey, and unfortunately that just did not go as planned. Hunwick did not look steady and his position as our sixth defenceman is an uncomfortable fit at the moment. Chad Ruhwedel looked solid as the sixth defenceman in the playoffs, but yet he may be better of as a seventh d-man.
The Penguins need to try upgrading this position, whether it be through free agency or through a trade.
3) Upgrade our Third-Line Centre if Possible
Now this one is placed third because it’s not a necessity. This week I wrote an article on the idea of the Penguins pursuing Joe Thornton in free agency. I explained that the Penguins have found a replacement for Nick Bonino as the third-line centre in Derick Brassard. However, Brassard did not have a strong season with the Penguins and it’s questionable how he may play.
He could play amazingly, or he could play poorly. All I know is that he has a great deal of potential and it just has to be uncovered. If the Penguins are presented with an opportunity to make a significant upgrade in that position, we should explore it. If not, we don’t need to worry about it too much.
Now I know there are a ton of rumours surrounding players like Kris Letang and Phil Kessel. But let me tell you, they are highly unlikely. Maybe the Penguins may make a few smaller trades to upgrade their support system, but as far as blockbuster trades go, hold them off.