Since center Sidney Crosby was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005, the fortunes of the franchise have drastically changed. Crosby has helped the Penguins transform into one of the elite teams in the National Hockey League. And with Crosby leading the way, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009. Since then the Penguins have remained as a perennial title contender, but some tweaking to their team could be on the horizon.
Last year the Penguins were upset in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the New York Rangers. The loss led to wholesale changes for the Penguins as general manager Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma were let go. Shero would be replaced by Jim Rutherford and Bylsma by Mike Johnston as the duo would look to get the most out of the Penguins roster.
The Pens came out of the gate strong this season and they were one of the top teams in the NHL until the beginning of March when they started to falter. The Penguins would be a .500 team for the month of March before losing five out of their last six games to finish the regular season which is not the fashion that a team would like to enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And when the Penguins met the Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, they had no answer for the Blueshirts as they were eliminated in five games.
Make no mistake about it that Crosby is one of the best hockey players in this era and along with center Evgeni Malkin, he gives the Penguins two of the best scoring threats and facilitators in the National Hockey League. Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fluery has been maligned in the past and he was even benched by Bylsma during the 2013 NHL Playoffs. But Fluery rebounded this season to have his best goals against average (2.32) since the 2010-2011 NHL season. The Penguins have the talent, but they are missing a vital ingredient to be a championship team which is depth.
When the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009, they were hungry. Since then there has been a bulls eye on their backs because of that title and the star power of Crosby. Crosby is in the prime of his career and the Penguins need not to waste that: therefore what they need to do is put more talent around him. In the series with the Rangers, Crosby was the most talented player on the ice, but New York had the better team as they consistently put pressure on him while not allowing him to put the Penguins on his back. The Penguins will have nearly $25 million in cap space for next season along with a need to add depth in the NHL Draft this June. The City of Pittsburgh is still a blue-collar town as they also love their hockey. And a blue-collar hockey team would give the folks in Western Pennsylvania something that they can to relate to.