2018 Pittsburgh Penguins Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
This is one of the easiest previews to write this year and every year. And it could be even easier if my editor would let me get away with just saying that "the Penguins are the Penguins". That's all you really need to say. They have won two of the last three Stanley Cups, they were tough in defeat last year, and they are icing basically the same team again. They are well-coached. Their top-line center is the best player on the planet. Their second-line center is better than 25 or more team's first center. They have goaltending. They are Pittsburgh. And they are going to be right in it until the end. Again. They aren't necessarily as talented as a couple of teams right now top to bottom, but they know everything there is to know about winning, and that is what matters most. Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Penguins Offseason Moves
This is not the place to come if you like to read about juicy offseason dealings. The most intriguing move was the addition of a sixth defenseman. Jack Johnson, who had fallen out of favor in Columbus and has lived through more family drama than anyone deserves over the years, is as worthy of a fresh start as anyone. The four-year, $16 million deal was eye-opening, but he was a third overall pick back in the day, and doubting Pittsburgh on personnel issues doesn't usually go very well. He'll likely pair with newly re-signed Jamie Oleksiak - who's sister, Penny, is a gold medal-winning swimmer for Canada - on the third pairing. To make room for Johnson, the team traded away Matt Hunwick and Conor Sheary for essentially nothing. Sheary had logged a fair bit of time playing with Crosby, but Sid hasn't had a lot of need for line loyalty over the years. It's quite possible that rookie Daniel Sprong, who had 65 points in 65 games in the AHL last year, will get a look on the top line. Lucky guy.
One thing this team likes on their roster is old guys that they trust in supporting. Craig Adams filled that role. So did Chris Kunitz at the end of his stay. And now they have brought back 41-year-old forward Matt Cullen for the fourth line. He was on the team for both recent Cup wins before going to Minnesota last year. Not flashy, but cheap and reliable.
The team took care of a little contract business. Most notably, they extended Brian Rust for four more years and backup goalie Tristan Jarry for two.
A team like Pittsburgh doesn't get to draft for instant impact. Their first
pick this year was 53rd overall, so it will be three or four years before
we can even begin to judge this draft.
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Outlook
I can only say this so many times without appearing more repetitive than I already do. This is a very good team with a proven core that we know has the potential to win. There are some concerns, of course. Matt Murray is a very good goalie when he is healthy, but staying that way has been a real struggle for him. He needs to stay healthy to help this team. And after an injury plagued year two years ago, top defenseman Kris Letang was back last year, but he was not as solid offensively as he has been, and he was a liability defensively too often. He has reportedly worked very hard in the offseason, and a return to form for him would be helpful. And if we want to nit-pick, after a brilliant regular season, the notoriously un-toned Phil Kessel really fell off a cliff in terms of production in the playoffs. Having him back in regular season form is better than not having him.
Washington knows how to win now. Toronto and Tampa are very good. But Pittsburgh is still a major threat in the conference and the league. And they will be as long as Crosby and Malkin can still be Crosby and Malkin.
Pittsburgh Penguins Schedule
In Pittsburgh's first 11 games the team plays Montreal, Vancouver and the Islanders twice each. That is six gimme games early on for a team like this. As long as the Penguins don't trip up in those opportunities then it can be a nice head start for them.
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Futures Odds
Pittsburgh is at +1200 to win the Stanley Cup at Bovada , which has them tied with Boston and behind six other teams - three of them from the East. The season point total is set at 102.5, which is a slight improvement over the 100 points they had last season. Crosby is the second choice to win the Hart Trophy as MVP at +650, behind only McDavid. Malkin is at +1800, and Kessel is the longest shot on the board at +10000.
2018-19 Pittsburgh Penguins Predictions
I like this team. I appreciate that they had the patience to largely stand pat instead of panicking after a playoff departure - it was still in the second round, and to the eventual champions after all. They are in the mix, for sure. I would lean slightly to the "over" on the season win total, but there are surely better bets out there.
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