Change salary and make the playoffs

It’s possible the Pittsburgh Penguins already have their final roster. And it’s entirely possible that they won’t. The NHL salary cap has become a pesky thing this summer, much like a 55 mph speed limit in the middle of the night on a lonely freeway. Nearly half of the league’s GMs succumbed to the temptation to arrive faster and break the speed limit.

The red and blue rolls aren’t in Penguins general manager Ron Hextall’s rearview mirror yet, but the Penguins and at least 12 other teams are all heading to the speed trap which is the start of training camp in about five weeks. .

Then things will get really interesting.

Two truths and a lie about the Pittsburgh Penguins:

The Penguins can go below the salary cap without making a trade. – TRUTH

It could hurt. It will probably hurt. However, the Penguins can stay in limbo under the NHL salary cap without making a trade by sending Ty Smith and Drew O’Connor to the WBS Penguins and then exposing another player to waivers.

Mark Friedman, Chad Ruhwedel and PO Joseph would be the main candidates. All three are likely to get sucked into waivers, and the Penguins would lack sufficient resources to call up a player for a short-term replacement.

Joseph and Friedman would be particularly bitter pills because Friedman seems to be finding his groove — the plucky defenseman briefly supplanted Marcus Pettersson in the Penguins’ roster late last season and played well in a few playoff games. On a team without much physical energy, Friedman is a bit of a “wild man” stirring the pot, sometimes much to the chagrin of head coach Mike Sullivan.

“You know, we want him to play his game. We want him to be who he is, but he has to make sure he stays on the right side of the line,” Sullivan said in early March. “The type of team that we have here and the type of game that we try to play requires discipline in many forms. And so, we don’t want to be a fighting team, and we want to be a team that plays to our strengths.

The “wild man” quote came from Bryan Rust, who said it in the most positive way.

Friedman got more penalty minutes (27) than he took (23) and added that physical element on the blue line. Statistics according to MoneyPuck.

After three professional seasons, Joseph remains incredibly gifted but still more full of potential than production. The 22-year-old defender has as much chance of passing waivers as I do of being signed. None.

The Penguins will make the playoffs in 2023 – The truth

Eternal rivals, the Washington Capitals, will struggle without Nicklas Backstrom. Tom Wilson also plans to be out for the first half of the season. Washington’s big player this summer was Dylan Strome, who put up decent points with the Chicago Blackhawks but didn’t excel with a solid two-way game.

It’s a stopgap measure until or if Backstrom returns from hip surgery.

New Jersey stealthily added players like Dougie Hamilton and Tomas Tatar last summer and Ondrej Palat this summer. Vitek Vanecek will be an upgrade in goal, albeit unspectacular. New Jersey could catch fire as former first overall pick Jack Hughes continues to progress, but New Jersey isn’t in the league with the Penguins, New York Rangers or Carolina Hurricanes.

The same goes for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Both teams are improved and could fight for a wildcard spot, but the Metro Division is unusually heavy this season. And the Penguins are in the top three teams.

The Penguins are the same old team that lost four straight playoffs – LIE

Look no further than the right side of the Pittsburgh Penguins defense. It’s been quite an undertaking to upgrade John Marino and Chad Ruhwedel for Jeff Petry and Jan Rutta.

This is a significant change and several improvements.

Also, call me crazy, but there seems to be a different energy with the return of Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. There was joy in Letang’s press conference at the NHL Draft in Montreal.

All parties had the chance to stare into the abyss. They have come to a crossroads, especially in the case of Evgeni Malkin, and prepared to move on. The excitement of making contracts, in my opinion, will renew the fighting spirit a little. They just have a few more chances, and they know it, which should create a little more desperation.

Also add Rickard Rakell to the mix.

Posted In NHL

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