2019 Pittsburgh Penguins Odds to win Stanley Cup with Expert Predictions
The Pittsburgh Penguins are only two years removed from winning two straight Stanley Cups, and they have definitely not blown up their core, so they are a long way from irrelevant. But as the last two years have passed, it has felt like the team has gotten a little further away from true relevance. Last year's first-round sweep at the hands of the upstart New York Islanders was a real wakeup call - or at least it needs to be. They are still strong and dangerous, but they do not feel quite like they once did. But that can all change in an instant, and I'm never going to count out a team that has two guys as good as the superstars at the core of this team are. It feels, though, like a very important season for this team.
Pittsburgh Penguins Offseason Moves
The Penguins didn't blow their team up, but they didn't stand still, either. This is a team that has gone through some real changes. Most notably, they traded away forward Phil Kessel. Kessel had a good impact in Pittsburgh and was especially important on the power play. But he was a bit of a luxury for the team given their offensive depth, and his approach to fitness, and hockey in general, is a little different from the norm. He was not relating well to his coaching staff, and he became more valuable as a tradeable asset than as a player. He wound up being dealt to Arizona. In return, the team got Alex Galchenyuk, a winger who is entering his eighth NHL season even though he is just 25. He was with Arizona for just one year after six in Montreal. He's a very solid player, but Pittsburgh has to be realistic and not expect him to replace Kessel's production. The Pens also got defender Pierre-Olivier Joseph, who has no shortage of first names. He was a 2017 first-round pick and has some upside. It will take some time for him, though. If the team was set on moving on from Kessel, then this was a decent way of doing so.
That wasn't the only deal they made. They sent 25-year-old defenseman Olli Maatta to the Blackhawks. He was a home-grown talent selected in the first round in 2012, but the team had grown frustrated by his slow development and inconsistency. In exchange, they received 24-year-old forward Dominik Kahun, who had 37 points as a rookie for the Blackhawks last year. He feels very much like a Pittsburgh player, and could be a good fit. This move puts more pressure on Jack Johnson and Erik Gudbranson to perform at a high level, though - and I'm not sure I'd sleep well if I was responsible for making that decision.
Though relatively quiet in free agency, the one move they made was an odd one. Brandon Tanev was a reasonably effective depth forward with the Jets, but he was far from eye-catching. By signing him for $3.5 million a year for six years, the Penguins clearly see something in him that isn't immediately obvious. It's a lot - of cash and term - to tie up in a guy who feels a lot like a replacement-level bottom six player from where I sit.
As usual, the team hasn't added immediate impact in the draft. Winger
Samuel Poulin, the first-round pick, is a quality guy who could turn into
something in time, though.
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Outlook
Sidney Crosby is 32 and Evgeni Malkin is 33, so there is some urgency around this team - good times can't last forever. They are going to need some bounce-back years from a couple of guys to really maximize things. Matt Murray is a very talented goalie, and he was strong down the stretch last year, but he was a disaster in the first half of the season. He needs to have a consistently excellent season. And defender Justin Schultz stands out as a guy who is very talented but has struggled to stay healthy, and to play to his potential, even when he has been able to play. Big seasons from those guys and some others could be the difference between just being a playoff team and being a team that can do some real damage.
Pittsburgh Penguins Schedule
The team opens with four straight home games and seven in their first nine games. They have no excuses for getting off to a bad start this year. They face an oddity in the schedule early on, as they finish off their two-game season series with Winnipeg in the first six games and wrap up things with Dallas in Games 8 and 12. You usually see things between conferences spread out a bit more.
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Futures Odds
The Penguins are one of six teams at +2000 to win the Stanley Cup, which places them behind eight squads. They are tied with Washington as the fifth choice to win the Eastern Conference at +1000, and are tied with the Islanders as the third choice to win the Metropolitan Division at +500. Washington, the division favorite, is only at +400, though, so it's a tight race. Their season point total is set at 94.5, with the over favored at -120. They are -200 to make the playoffs, compared to +170 to miss them.
2019-20 Pittsburgh Penguins Predictions
Things would have to go really poorly for this team to miss the playoffs - even with the Eastern Conference getting as tough and deep as it is this year. But I struggle to imagine them as a top-tier contender right now. They have a lot to prove before I can accept them as more than a team that could win a round before falling aside to a true contender.
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