No matter how you look at things, it’s been a disappointing season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Midway through the season it looked like the team wouldn’t even qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the end they made the playoffs but couldn’t even muster up a win, dropping four straight to the New York Islanders.
After such a disappointing season, there are sure to be changes and according to Penguins insider Josh Yohe, BIG changes are coming this offseason.
“In the years we won, we were a team, we were a tightknit team,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said to Yohe. “I didn’t see that this year from day one. They didn’t come together as a team. Maybe guys are too content in their careers having won Stanley Cups.”
“We are still a bit emotional with how this ended,” he continued. “The best thing for me is to take a little time to think through this. Some big decisions will be made. Obviously, there will be changes on our team.”
So where will the changes come? Up front? On defence? What do they do with Matt Murray?
“I think our defense is probably the best now that it’s been since I’ve been here as a group,” Rutherford said. “You always like mobile defensemen. You like guys who can move the puck. We have at least one guy on each pairing who can move the puck. Now we have guys who can have some pushback.”
One of those players who can move the puck is blueliner Kris Letang. The puck moving defenseman bristled at suggestions that he should change his game moving forward.
“You don’t want me to make mistakes? I’ll try that. Next year I’ll try to make no mistakes at all. Maybe next year you’re going to say, ‘We have Kris in our lineup. He doesn’t do anything offensively.’ Now you’re going to rip me apart because I don’t produce anything. Sometimes I make mistakes. I wish I could take those all back. At the end of the day, I wish I could have done something else at different times. I don’t think the answer is to change my whole game. I’m not going to change the type of game I play over three plays.”
Could Letang be on the block alongside sniper Phil Kessel this summer? It seems unlikely, but then again Rutherford isn’t one to just tinker. He loves a good shakeup. Erik Gudbranson, Jared McCann, Marcus Pettersson and Nick Bjugstad are likely to stick around for the long haul, but what about a player like Olli Maatta? When asked about the possibility of being dealt Maatta said, “You try not to think about that. All you can do is go have a good summer. Whatever happens, happens.”
Indeed there could be a LOT of “whatever” happening in Pittsburgh this summer.