The Pittsburgh Penguins love making splash moves. Be it in the form of signing a “big name” player or getting involved in big trades, that’s just who the Penguins have become.
They have done it for years, but we’re starting to see a new direction in Pittsburgh. Five years ago former general manager Ray Shero spent millions of dollars in free agency to sign defensemen Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek.
However, ever since that offseason, the Penguins free agent signings have steadily declined. They still have utilized free agency, but nowhere near the extent of prior seasons. So why have the Penguins stopped signing expensive free agents?
There are two things at play, the first is the salary cap and the other is repeated failure.
The Penguins have tried loading up on big names during free agency, only to falter in the playoffs. They’ve tried trading for every big name available at the trade deadline (Jaromie Iginla, Douglas Murray and Brendan Morrow) and it has not worked. This past season they tried making all sorts of trades and that didn’t really pan out either.
Now at the start of free agency, the Penguins made a big trade to acquire the vicious scorer Phil Kessel, but besides that move have been relatively quiet. They haven’t been going out and getting players who are on the market and they did not make any other trades.
This is because they have run against the salary cap pretty hard. The Penguins had injuries last season and had to play with just five defenders for an extended amount of time.
They already have a lot of “big name” players on the roster and they’re all starting to age. Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel will both be 27 when the season starts, Evgeni Malkin will be 29, Kris Letang will be 28 and Marc-Andre Fleury turns 31 two months into the year.
They’re on the clock and the sad part is that their core players are some of their younger talent. It can’t keep going like this forever. Chris Kunitz, Rob Scuderi and Pascal Dupuis all don’t have much hockey left in them and they all are viable trade candidates sooner than later.
Sure, the Penguins traded for Kessel and have proved, now more than ever, that they’re all in. They’re going to be gunning for the Stanley Cup throughout the next few seasons and they have to. Their best players are starting to age and it won’t be long before they’re a rebuilding team and not a powerhouse.
We’ll discuss why the Penguins will eventually have to rebuild and not reload another day, but this inventive event is coming sooner rather than later.
Right now, if you’re a Penguins fan, enjoy the quality of hockey we’re about to see in the upcoming season because our “generational” players are starting to get up there in age. Even the best can’t play forever.