Sunday, June 14, 2009

March of the Penguins

The Stanley Cup champions faced a lot of adversity this season. They lost their powerplay quarterback for the majority of the season, fired their head coach midseason, brought in new faces at the trade deadline and were never favored in the playoffs. All of these seemingly negative experiences proved to be the reason why the Penguins were so successful this season. They were able to come together as a team and excel when they needed to the most. Expect Pittsburgh to be flying next season as they try and defend their championship.

Evgeni Malkin – The Art Ross, Conn Smyth and Stanley Cup champion was brilliant the entire season. He led his team when Crosby was injured and came through in the playoffs when it counted most. Malkin could very well go number one in any draft as he is as good as Crosby and Ovechkin.

Sidney Crosby – Capturing the Stanley Cup in his fourth year of play and to be the youngest captain to ever win the cup is an amazing feat. You cannot lose with Crosby on your team as he has tremendous heart and skill. The top choices in the majority of drafts, you can’t lose of the caliber of talent he possesses.

Chris Kunitz – Coming over in a trade from Anaheim, Kunitz fit in nicely playing on the top line. He may not be among the scoring leaders in the league but Kunitz will be able to compliment the top lines in Pittsburgh well. He should be over the 60 point mark next season and should be considered a keeper at this point. Draft him in early mid-rounds as his potential in unknown at this point.

Jordan Staal – With his new 4 year contract kicking in next season, Staal looks to be in Pittsburgh for the long haul. He has many talents and is used primarily on the third line and in short handed situations. With 49 points in 82 games, it appears he has reached his points potential. Staal has minimal fantasy value as he will never be a heavy point producer but looked at as a role player.

Bill Guerin – After being traded from the lowly Islanders at the deadline, Guerin immediately impacted the Penguins and added experience and leadership that was needed for them to win the Cup. With 2 Stanley Cups to his name, Guerin has a big choice in the offseason, retire at the top of his game or come back for another kick at the can. Owners should not dismiss him yet. If Guerin signs with the Penguins he will have a lot of fantasy value playing on the top line, draft him accordingly.

Petr Sykora – At 31 years of age, it seems Sykora has been around forever. Scratched for the majority of the playoffs will not help his value as a UFA this offseason. Look for Sykora to move on from Pittsburgh and possibly end up playing in Europe. He should have no keeper value at this point and should only be drafted for depth if he does play in the NHL next season.

Kris Letang – Points can be deceptive as Letang was looked upon to run the powerplay when Gonchar went down for the majority of the season. Scoring 33 points in 74 games, Letang really upped his game in the playoffs. He will be given a bigger role next season as he has shown he can compete at the NHL level. Draft him as an up and comer and you won’t be disappointed.

Miroslav Satan – The end is near for Satan. Signed in the off season to play wing on the top two lines, Satan ended the season in the minors and only factored into a few playoff games. A UFA this offseason, he may not get the money or teams willing to invest in the underachiever. Look for him to be playing overseas now that he has won the cup.

Sergei Gonchar – With a major shoulder injury sidelining the star for the most of the season, Gonchar was able to come back and make an immediate impact on the blueline. With 19 points in 25 games, he anchored the powerplay and provided leadership during the Penguins surge into the playoffs. One of the top dmen in the league, he should be drafted accordingly as he will always be on the top of the league in defensive points.

Marc-Andre Fleury – The progression of Fleury’s talent has been right on queue. A gifted butterfly goaltender, Fleury has excelled playing in Pittsburgh and their high powered offensive system. Owners should hold on to Fleury as he should always put up winning seasons playing on a team with the top offensive talents in the league. Draft Fleury with the likes of Lundqvist, Nabokov, Brodeur etc, as he is looked at as the top goaltender for his team and will get you points.


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