Things look kinda shaky for the Pittsburgh Penguins moving forward and the next season(s) might be the few left for the team to win another championship with Sidney Crosby as their captain.
This offseason, general manager Jim Rutherford traded (once again) his first round pick, this time to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a package deal to acquire forward Kasperi Kapanen. With this trade now in the books, the Penguins don’t have much more top prospects in their ranks to ensure a strong future as a contender.
In fact, their prospect pool is so weak that analyst Corey Pronman has ranked the Pens’ litter 30th overall in the NHL ... And that was before they traded Filip Hallander to the Leafs in the Kapanen transaction. Besides forwards Samuel Poulin and Nathan Légaré, as well as defenseman Pier-Olivier Joseph, the Penguins’ prospect pool is, well, dry.
And it is clear that things won’t be improving at this level, especially with Rutherford’s history when it comes to picks and putting them in trades during the season. Look at what picks the Penguins had in the past season, what they had to build up a prospect pool recently:
2020 (4): 3 - 4 - 5 - 6
Now, look at what’s ahead for now for the 2021 NHL Draft: 2 - 5 - 7 - 7 - 7. This means that they have a total of nine relatively distant draft picks over a period of two years.
Rutherford has been focused on one thing, winning the Stanley Cup at all costs while his team's window is open with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on board and playing at their best. Who knows, the GM might even be willing to trade his next first round pick, the one in 2022, to get immediate help to win another championship.
Clearly, he doesn't care about the future, when he won’t be the GM anymore, but when Crosby will be ending his career with a rebuilding team… According to Pittsburgh Hockey Now reporter Dan Kingerski, Crosby's final years in the NHL will take part amidst a painful rebuild that will kick off in the 2023 season. He believes that just like the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks have done, the Penguins are set to become the next big franchise to announce an inevitable rebuild to their fans.
Unless Crosby demands a trade out of Pittsburgh in the next years, he is almost set to end his career at 36 years at the bottom of the standings. The time is now clearly, not just for Sid but the Penguins as well.