Since winning the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive year nearly two weeks ago, a lot has happened in the world of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Nothing of which, more important than this.
June 22, 2016: Las Vegas got an NHL team.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 22, 2017
As expected, Marc Andre Fleury became an ex-Penguin late on Wednesday night. And while you KNEW it was coming…..it didn’t make it any less painful in the end.
and finally in what will not be the last tribute the Penguins give him…..
Vegas, you got a good one.
— Penguins ? (@penguins) June 22, 2017
With next year’s schedule being released this past Thursday, we found out Fleury will return to Pittsburgh on February 6th with his new teammates in what is sure to be an emotional time inside PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins also sent a draft pick in 2020 to Vegas to ensure that the first year expansion club would indeed take the Flower. So there you have it, the Penguins were ready to move on, Fleury himself was ready to move on and be a starter in a new place. 14 years of work and dedication and memories will never be forgotten. It truly is what is best for all sides, even if painful to see play out.
So with all of the months of speculation and arguing and taking sides finally over, everyone involved from Fleury to Murray to management and fans alike can begin the process focusing on next year.
The Penguins started doing that almost immediately by signing defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a two-year contract worth $650,000 per year. The 27 year old appeared in 34 regular season games and amassed 10 points (2G, 8A). Ruhwedel made just two appearances in the post season, including Game 7 against Washington in the second round.
The signing is a very good indication as to where the team will focus heading into the offseason. Bolstering the defensive corps will be priority number one for GM Jim Rutherford. With Kris Letang coming off of major neck surgery and the possibility of losing Trevor Daley to free agency and the ever on-going battle of ‘when will Derrick Poliout start to not suck’ This offseason make over will be one to watch.
Another player to keep eyes on is Nick Bonino. The third line center is also a free agent and may have priced himself out of coming back to Pittsburgh, despite the Pens now having $20 million in cap room. You can expect a few teams to line up and try to overpay for his services. With the strong possibility of Matt Cullen retiring, it would leave the Pens with a 3rd and 4th line center issue.
The Penguins will open up defense of their 5th championship on Wednesday, October 4th against the St Louis Blues. Nashville comes to town three days later, and will do so without James Neal, whom they lost to the expansion draft themselves.
A couple of notes from the schedule…..Pittsburgh faces 18 back-to-back game scenarios next year, most in the league including 7 of those back to backs in February and March. Also the Penguins and Washington will not meet up in Pittsburgh until February 2nd.
The Penguins will travel to Las Vegas and visit Fleury on Thursday, December 14th.
Print it, save it, and get ready for another hockey season right around the corner! pic.twitter.com/k5DkUBEkm2
— Penguins ? (@penguins) June 22, 2017
The Penguins were shut out in the annual NHL Awards on Wednesday night. Jim Rutherford, Mike Sullivan, and Sidney Crosby all went home without any new trophies for their collection. Sullivan finished 8th in the Coach of the year award. Rutherford missed out on GM of the year, and Sid came in second for both the Player’s MVP award and the Hart Trophy.
Hell, Sid….AGAIN couldn’t even get on the cover of NHL18 for next year. (Side note…..this is the biggest joke running…..screw you EA Sports for this never happening….I’d love to boycott your game but we both know that’s not happening)
I think they’ll all sleep just fine at the end of the day given that big silver thing they get to lug around again for the summer.
And finally, tonight is the Entry Draft and the Pens will select 31st. Keep an eye on the trade market as Rutherford always seems to be willing to wheel and deal around this time. With a weaker draft class this year (especially in the top 10) it may be a good year to make a splash in this department.
Next week we will come back at you with a recap of the draft and a look ahead to free agency, which begins on July 1st. In the mean time for any and all breaking news, please slide over to our Twitter account where we will keep you up to date!
Thanks, as always for reading!!
That face you make when you realize you went from back to back Cups….to probably 25 wins next year.