Pittsburgh Penguins: Waddling Into a Look at Training Camp

The Pittsburgh Penguins will enter the 2019-2020 season with not much of a target on their back. The New York Islanders swept Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 and they were eliminated by the Washington Capitals in six games in the second round in 2018.

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Pittsburgh has had a bitter taste to end the season the last two years and they want to be the last team standing at the end of the year once again.

One of the major moves they have made this offseason is trading Phil Kessel to the Arizona Coyotes for Alex Galchenyuk and prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also traded Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks for Dominik Kahun and a draft pick.

The Metropolitan Division is by far the toughest division to play in. The Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins are most likely the two best teams in that division once again. The New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers, and the Philadelphia Flyers will also be better this season.

The Carolina Hurricanes will be tough because they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2008-2009 last season. The New York Islanders will also be competitive under Barry Trotz and the Columbus Blue Jackets will also be competitive under John Tortorella.

The projected lines for Pittsburgh this season will be Jared McCannSidney CrosbyJake Guentzel, Alex Galchenyuk-Evgeni Malkin-Dominik Kahun, Dominik SimonNick BjugstadPatric Hornqvist, and Brandon TanevTeddy BluegerBryan Rust.

The projected defense pairings for this team will be Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang, Marcus Pettersson and Justin Schultz, and Jack Johnson and Erik Gudbranson.

Matt Murray will be the starting goalie. Casey DeSmith will most likely be the backup goalie, but Tristan Jarry will compete for that spot as well. Pittsburgh has been looking to trade Jarry because all three of those goalies are on one-way deals. He could be a starting goalie in the NHL.

Zach Aston-Reese, Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel, and Zach Trotman will be some key backups on this team.

The Penguins drafted both Samuel Poulin and Nathan Legare this past summer. Indeed, they will both get hard looks during training camp. Poulin and Legare could crack the roster to start the season and General Manager Jim Rutherford will have a decision to make with them. Does he keep them around or does he send them back to juniors to develop some more?

Jim Rutherford might have to trade defenseman Jack Johnson or forward Bryan Rust during the season. This would create more cap space.

Head Coach Mike Sullivan signed a three-year contract extension during the offseason. His contract was going to expire at the end of the 2019-2020 season.

This will also be a very big season for his assistants. If Mark Recchi, Jacques Martin, and Mike Buckley don’t get their acts together, I could see Mike Sullivan being forced to make changes to his coaching staff.

They should have made changes to his staff during the offseason and the Pittsburgh Penguins could very well regret that.

Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel have developed solid chemistry together. Jared McCann became a beast after the Florida Panthers made a trade of him and Nick Bjugstad was also solid.

This will also be a big year for goalie Matt Murray because he is on a contract year.

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Evgeni Malkin had a down year last season and he is looking to regain his form.

This team has also made it to the playoffs for 13 straight seasons and they hope to make it 14.

There has not been an announcement on a date for training camp. They will begin preseason play on the road against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, September 16 at Pegula Ice Arena at Penn State University.

Pittsburgh will have their first game against Buffalo at home on Thursday, October 3.

How do you see the season playing out for the Pittsburgh Penguins? Leave a comment below.

Slap a shot over to IroniqMedia for all of your NHL coverage.

Follow Glenn on Twitter @glennkaplan13.

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