While it’s fine to be introspective and figure out what went wrong to prevent them from winning a third straight Stanley Cup, the Penguins also don’t need to overreact to the situation. They have a really strong team, led by two of the best centres in the world, and if they get good goaltending, the results could very easily be different.
Knowing that they don’t need to make changes doesn’t mean that the Penguins won’t shake things up. GM Jim Rutherford doesn’t like to stand pat and has plenty of assets to move if he feels like giving the team a different look for next season.
Jim Rutherford/Mike Sullivan
Evgeni Malkin – The 31-year-old centre had his best season since 2011-2012, leading the team with 42 goals and 98 points. Amazing what can happen when he’s healthy – he played 78 games, his most since 2008-2009 and only the second time in that span that he played more than 70 games.
Phil Kessel – The veteran winger has played in every game over the past eight seasons, and went for a career-high 92 points in 2017-2018.
Sidney Crosby – Even if an 89-point season doesn’t necessarily stand out on the superstar’s career record, that he did it with a career-low 6.1% on-ice shooting percentage indicates that his season was more dominant than the point total would suggest.
Matt Murray – After a couple of nearly perfect seasons, both culminating in Stanley Cup victories, the 24-year-old goaltender hit a bump in the road, with a below-average save percentage, last season.
Matt Hunwick – Effectively brought in as an inexpensive replacement for Ron Hainsey, the veteran defenceman struggled and managed to dress for only 42 games.
Kris Letang – Truth be told, Letang had solid possession stats (55.1 CF%, +4.4 CFRel%) and put up 51 points in 79 games, but he was outscored 77-54 during 5-on-5 play and even landed in trade rumours during the season.
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