Rumors surround Penguins as team off to rocky start
It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t seeing the same success at this point in the season as they have the past two years. The back-to-back Stanley Cup champs are sitting at fourth in the Metropolitan division, sitting at 13–10–3. While not horrible, the Pens are certainly not playing at the same level that they were just a few months ago when they raised the cup, so what’s the problem with the defending champions?
The most glaring difference from last season is on the roster. Six different Penguins (guard Marc-Andre Fleury, center Nick Bonino, defenseman Trevor Daley, center Matt Cullen, left winger Chris Kunitz, and defenseman Ron Hainsey) left the Pens either as free agents or in the expansion draft and signed new contracts with different teams.
That’s a huge loss from the Pens bottom six offense, but general manager Jim Rutherford did his best to fill the holes, bringing in right winger Ryan Reaves of the St. Louis Blues, center Riley Sheahan from the Detroit Red Wings, and center Greg McKegg of the Florida Panthers to fill in the gaps left by Bonino, Cullen, and Kunitz.
Where the Pens really need help, even with Carter Rowney’s return from his hand injury, is at center. Another center in the lineup, especially one with a veteran presence who can score goals, would be invaluable. Sheahan still hasn’t been excellent at 3C Minor Hockey, and Rowney hasn’t proven himself to be able to score often.
Recently, rumors surrounding Pens defenseman Ian Cole being shopped have surfaced, and it leads one to wonder who the Penguins might be able to pick up in exchange for the shot blocking D-man. My eye is on center Tyler Bozak of the Maple Leafs. He’d be a significant upgrade from Sheahan at 3C, and would likely have good chemistry with former teammates right winger Phil Kessel and defenseman Matt Hunwick.
Head coach Mike Sullivan is vehemently denying any and all trade rumors, so maybe Penguins fans will not get another addition to the team right now. But who knows, Sullivan might just be trying to keep things quiet, as he’s been known to do.