Here’s Why We Are Better Than Last Season

No one knows exactly what the Pittsburgh Penguins’ roster will look like when they open the regular season on October 13th against Arizona.

Part 1 of 2

After all, it’s always possible for someone to be surprised by winning a job during training camp — remember what Brian Boyle did in 2021? And the threat of major injury during training or show games certainly cannot be ruled out.

But with only two and a half weeks remaining before the season’s first practice on the ice, which is scheduled for September 22 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, head of hockey operations Brian Burke feels this team is better than the team that lost to the New York Rangers in seven games during the first round. of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

And not just because Tristan is my neighbor, Brian DumoulinRickard Raquel and Sidney Crosby, all of whom missed a long time in that series due to injuries, are believed to be in good health.

For that matter, add defenders Jeff Petrie and Ty Smith across deals and Jean Rota In free agency he doesn’t seem to be the main reason for his optimism either.

Instead, Burke is referring to something no as the main source for its evaluation.

When the Rangers series ended, it wasn’t certain that Chris Letang, Brian Rost, Evgeny Malkin and Rickard Raquel – all of whom were eligible for unrestricted free agency – would still be on the Penguins’ payroll this fall.

Or even be any of them.

But management has made keeping the team’s core intact a cornerstone of their approach to the season, and Ron Hextal was able to get all four on contract. Whether he made long-term commitments to veterans like Litang and Malkin, who are in their mid-30s, may not be clear for some time, but Burke flatly endorsed the concept.

“That was an important part of the strategy, obviously, to bring back (Litang) and Malkin,” he said. “For me, bringing them back makes our team better than if they weren’t here, and that was questionable.”

Burke described Raquel, who was selected from Anaheim at the trade deadline, as a “major plus” and noted the importance of “locking up (rust)”.

Although signings and acquisitions have left the Pittsburgh Penguins slightly above the NHL’s $82.5 million salary cap for next season, Burke indicated they could get it by appointing some of the exempt players who are expected to compete for the major title. – Proportional functions with Wilkes Bar. Drew O’Connor Smith will be featured on that list.

They can also handle a man of defense or two, since they currently have a nine-caliber NHL set to be in camp.

“We don’t have anything active (with commercial discussions) at the moment,” Burke said. “But other teams have asked about our (defense guys), so that’s a possibility.”

He believes there are more clubs that could be amenable to doing trades than a cursory look at the state of their cap might suggest, that “a number of teams” are able to become max compliant by making tactical cuts or putting personnel on Long term- List of wounded term.

Since potential deals can meet – or fall apart – with a single phone call, employee case numbers at Pittsburgh Penguins will remain somewhat volatile in the coming weeks.

However, Burke does not appear to be expecting any subsequent moves before the season begins.

“I don’t know if we will do anything else between now and camp,” he said. “That’s unlikely, but the phones are still ringing. At this time of year, people are still calling you.”

And when they contact the Pittsburgh Penguins, they can expect to speak with a front desk who seems somewhat satisfied, at least for the time being, with the talents they have amassed.

“I think we’re a better team,” Burke said. “Right now, we’re just waiting for camp to start.”

Part 2: Who do penguins need to up their game?