2017-18 Pittsburgh Penguins Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup last year. And the year before. And they are solidly favored to win it again this year. They have made changes each year, and they are far from a perfect team. They have, however, the best and hungriest player on the planet. And another top five talent in the NHL for good measure. Guys like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can erase a lot of other concerns for a team. This offseason they got a little younger, they may have gotten a little better, and they are ready for another fight. But do they have enough to give?
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Pittsburgh Penguins Offseason Moves
The move that will take the most getting used to is that the team allowed Las Vegas to pick goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft. Fleury became the first face of the Golden Knights. Matt Murray had emerged as the No. 1 the last two years, so having Fleury gone cements him in that position - even if it removes a security blanket for the team. The team brought Antti Niemi in as a veteran backup. He was very cheap, and that was for an obvious reason - he was really awful in Dallas. Tristan Jarry is in the wings as a young up-and-comer, so if Niemi doesn't improve he'll find himself unemployed.
Beyond Fleury the story of this offseason was the shedding of depth - an unfortunate reality for teams that have success and have an expensive core like this team does. Chris Kunitz left for Tampa Bay after nine years and three Cups in Pittsburgh. Nick Bonino left for the Nashville after beating them for the Cup. Defensemen Trevor Daley (Detroit), Ron Hainsey (Toronto), and Mark Streit (Montreal) all moved on. And center Matt Cullen, who will turn 41 in November, avoided retirement by joining Minnesota on a one-year deal. There are going to be a lot of new faces in the dressing room.
The defense needed attention. The first thing they did was sign Matt Hunwick from Toronto to a reasonable three-year deal. He's no superstar, but he'll fit a role nicely. They also signed 25-year-old Jarred Tinordi, seeing if they can finally be the team that can help the guy reach his massive potential and become a regular NHLer. What they most focused on defensively, though, was taking care of what mattered to them. They locked Brian Dumoulin up for five years and Justin Schultz up for three. Both were important pieces last year. Add in Kris Letang, their top defender who is healthy coming into this season after an injury-plagued season ultimately ended prematurely by neck surgery, and the top end of the defense is more than solid.
The team likely isn't done the shuffling. They don't have an obvious
third-line center, so look for more moves either before the season or once
things get rolling and they see what they really have. This has never been
a team that is afraid to make moves. They have two very promising young
goalies, and a likely long-term starter in Murray, so that is one chip they
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Outlook
Winning the Stanley Cup is just an amazing accomplishment. You have to win four very grueling series after a long and tough regular season. The Penguins are the only team in recent years that have managed to find the energy and determination to do it two years in a row. L.A. and Chicago have had their dominant runs lately, too, but two years in a row has been too much for those squads. Now Pittsburgh looks to do it three times in a row. That's a whole lot of hockey - and the core of the team played in the World Cup before last season as well. You obviously need to consider the impact that that much play will have on this team. It certainly doesn't eliminate them from consideration, and they are deserving favorites, but with there being so many good teams in the league this year the margin for error is smaller than ever for this team. Remember, last year they dominated the Stanley Cup Finals but needed overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Finals against Ottawa to get into the Finals.
Pittsburgh Penguins Schedule
The defending champs don't get to ease into the season. They play 11 of their first 16 games on the road, and of those 11 games only Vancouver is a bad team. They play in Tampa twice and in Washington in that stretch, which will tell us a lot early about how the power structure in the East stacks up. One of those home games will also be very interesting - in their third game of the season they host the Predators for a Stanley Cup rematch.
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Futures Odds
Pittsburgh is the +700 favorite to win the Stanley Cup at Bovada . Edmonton is, slightly optimistically, the second choice at +900. BetOnline has them favored to win the Eastern Conference at +450, ahead of Toronto and Tampa Bay at +600. Of those two Tampa feels like the more legitimate threat as long as they stay healthy. They are favored to win the Metropolitan at +225, ahead of Washington at +250. Remember, they didn't win their division either of the last two years, and things turned out okay in the end for them. The season win total is set at 46.5. Last year they won 50 games, so it isn't too tough, surprisingly, to see some value on the "over".
2017-18 Pittsburgh Penguins Predictions
The depth is a concern, and sooner or later they will have played too much hockey and it will wear them down. I'm not dumb enough to pick against Crosby and company, though. He will do more to win than anyone else in the league, and he's also the most talented player in the league. That's not a combination I want to bet against. I don't hate the idea of betting the over on the season win total, either.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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