After falling to the surprising Montreal Canadiens, the Pittsburgh Penguins had two objectives:
1.Get stronger on the wings
2. Improve defensively
Defensively, they certainly got better. Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek are quality defensemen that both bring different, but effective styles to the Penguins back end. Martin is the puck moving defenceman they needed with the departure of Sergei Gonchar, and Michalek will add the poise and toughness every team needs.
Offensively however, the wings still look fairly depleted. GM Ray Shero brought in former Philadelphia Flyers forward Arron Asham and just recently Mike Comrie, who is rumoured to be playing with Sidney Crosby this season.
Comrie was once believed to be a top six forward but after several seasons of mediocrity, that status is certainly in jeopardy. But the Pens are hoping playing alongside arguably the best player in the league can change that.
There have been talks of Asham centering the third line while Jordan Staal would move up to the second with Evgeni Malkin but this is not yet confirmed.
In this event, Malkin would move to the wing which according to Coach Dan Bylsma, he is willing to do. Staal would obviously need to produce more offensively, an opportunity he could relish with his talent and size.
However the soon to be 22-year-old, will also miss the first part of camp as he still is being hampered by the foot laceration from last season’s playoffs.
Meanwhile with Asham, the Pens will get a poor man’s Jordan Staal to anchor their penalty-kill and will bring toughness to the line-up. As many Penguin players have said, they’re happy Asham will be wearing the black and yellow this season so they don’t have to play against him.
Shero took some risks this off-season acquiring injury prone Paul Martin and Hilary Duff’s husband Mike Comrie, but the pay out could be huge if all goes well. Dan Bylsma will also be looking for more from another player who got out-dueled by Jaroslav Halak in the playoffs.
Marc-andre Fleury, the new Penguins whipping boy, will try to rebound from his sub-par season and find the consistency he had in his Cup winning year.
The Pens will for sure be a tougher team to play against this time around but whether or not they are strong enough offensively will be the biggest question in the 10-11 season.
About the Author
Written by Amit Mann