The Pittsburgh Penguins have a major off-season decision to make in goal, and it might be the best problem a team could have. Instead of the Penguins seeking a starting netminder or a goaltender to solidify their crease, Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford needs to figure out how his team is going to proceed with their two legitimate starting goaltenders.
Matt Murray’s post-season play, which had the rookie netminder in the conversation for the Conn Smythe Trophy, has potentially vaulted him to the top of the Penguins depth chart in goal. Murray, 22, posted solid numbers in the regular season, has blown competition away in the AHL and his post-season performance was inspiring. But veteran netminder Marc-Andre Fleury was the Penguins’ rock during the regular season and Rutherford didn’t fail to recognize that Fleury is coming off of arguably his best season as a professional.
“If it wasn’t for Fleury’s play, we probably wouldn’t be in the playoffs,” Rutherford said. “He really carried this team, especially in the first half of the season when we need to have really good goaltending. Of course, he got hurt. Matt took over, (but) Matt was going to get some games down the stretch anyway. That was always the plan.” Read more
The post-season injury lists for the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks will begin filtering out over the next few weeks, but the strangest tale of all may have already been revealed.
During his end of season meeting with media, Penguins center Nick Bonino said that he had to battle through some serious situations during the final two rounds of the post-season. Bonino said that during the Stanley Cup final he was dealing with an infection in his elbow that had him on medication and a fever so high — over 101, according to Bonino — that he had to be kept away from his family.
“They were going to shut me down for the year,” Bonino said. “I was on a ton of antibiotics, getting IVs every day at the hospital. The doctors did a really good job keeping my elbow healthy. I don’t think I practiced the whole (Stanley Cup final). Guys were ripping me for it because I could just play games, didn’t have to practice anymore. I rested up and then we got it done…I was quarantined in the hotel, I wasn’t even living at home. They didn’t want me around the baby.” Read more
The Stanley Cup drought may not be over for the Maple Leafs, but fans in Toronto might get a day with the trophy.
Ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup parade, Sportsnet 590’s Joey Vendetta spoke with Phil Kessel, who said he hasn’t quite made up his mind about what his plans are for his day with the Stanley Cup. Most might have assumed that Kessel would take the Stanley Cup back to his home, Madison, Wis., but the 28-year-old said he might be taking the trophy back to Toronto.
“I probably will end up bringing it back (to Toronto). Nothing for sure yet, nothing’s been decided, but I think there’s a good chance that’ll happen,” Kessel told Vendetta. “I have a lot of friends in Toronto. That’s kinda where I spend most of my time now.” Read more
Following the end of the 2016 Stanley Cup final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks, it didn’t take long for speculation to begin over the Cup finalists’ off-season plans.
ESPN.com’s Craig Custance suggests the Penguins trade goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. With Matt Murray taking over as the starter during the playoffs and the Penguins carrying limited salary-cap room, they could consider moving the 31-year-old’s $5.75-million cap hit.
Custance believes Fleury could be “a great fit” with the Calgary Flames or Carolina Hurricanes. Both clubs need depth between the pipes and have depth in young talent and prospects to entice the Penguins.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari notes the Penguins could also move Fleury this summer in order to protect Murray in a possible expansion draft next June. He also speculates the veteran netminder could request a trade.
The NHL is expected to announce its decision on a possible expansion to Las Vegas by June 22. More details recently emerged regarding the guidelines for an expansion draft that could affect this summer’s trade market .
It was originally believed players with no-movement clause carrying partial no-trade clauses (such as Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury) wouldn’t be protected from the draft. However, that only applies to players whose contracts expire at the end of 2016-17. That also includes those with full no-movement clauses. Those with contracts that run through 2017-18 must be protected.
SAN JOSE – Aside from the players themselves, there are a good number of 18-year-old kids who were thrilled to see the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup this spring.
Unless you follow the prospect world, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of the likes of Will Bitten, Clayton Keller, Vitali Abramov, Alex DeBrincat and Rasmus Apslund yet. But you will. And depending on how many NHL teams try to copy the blueprint provided by this year’s Stanley Cup-winning Penguins, they might have a better chance to make the NHL than they ever have.
As judged by Conn Smythe Trophy voters, Sidney Crosby was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ best forward — and best player — in the post-season, but it was Kris Letang who was undoubtedly the Penguins’ top blueliner throughout the post-season. It’s fitting then that Pittsburgh clinched the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup on a goal that saw Crosby and Letang link up.
With the Penguins having their second chance to close out the Sharks and take the Cup, Pittsburgh made sure to keep any glimmer of hope San Jose may have had to a minimum. The Penguins opened the scoring on a power play tally by Brian Dumoulin in the first period, but the SAP Center exploded less than seven minutes into the second frame when Logan Couture tied the game. But in a series where the Sharks trailed for the majority, Game 6 would be much the same.
From the moment the puck was dropped following Couture’s goal, the Penguins took over. Pittsburgh got possession, turned the puck up ice and skated circles around the San Jose zone, putting pucks on net and making Sharks netminder Martin Jones dart back and forth to cover his goal. After nearly 40 seconds of zone time, which included Letang showcasing some fancy footwork along the left wing wall, Crosby dug a puck out of the front of the net, swooped behind the goal and laid a perfect pass out front for Letang to one-time home: Read more
SAN JOSE – Perhaps Sidney Crosby will never score 100 points ever again. Then again, maybe he will. If you go by analytics, logic states that his numbers should begin declining at some point pretty soon. But he proved in the Stanley Cup final, and by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, that he’s about so much more than numbers.
“I think Sidney Crosby’s best hockey is ahead of him,” said Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin.
Whoa there, cowboy. Best hockey ahead of him? Two Stanley Cups, two scoring championships, two Hart Trophies, a Conn Smythe, five 100-point seasons, two Olympic gold medals and a space waiting for his plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame and his best hockey is still ahead of him? Well, if you consider that Crosby has essentially turned himself into a Selke Trophy candidate and that he’s altered his entire game a la Steve Yzerman, perhaps that’s not as outlandish as it sounds.