Pens facing a summer of big decisions


Image courtesy Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins have made early playoff exits for several years in a row.

Zach Wiatrowski, Staff Writer

The Penguins are looking to bring change for the upcoming season. While the team still has a strong core, it needs a lot of work, both for the present and the future.

Being the oldest team in the league is not a good look, especially if that team does not make the playoffs. That is precisely where Pittsburgh is right now.

Small steps began with the firing of General Manager Ron Hextall and top executive Brian Burke, and the search for new management is ongoing. 

And while the Pens did not get lucky in the draft lottery, they should get a good prospect with the 14th pick. They also have some key players locked up, like Rickard Rakell and obviously the big three of Geno Malkin, Sid Crosby, and Kris Letang. 

But that is about all the good pieces for this team. The rest are just problems. 

The new GM will have to deal with the huge problems of player contracts. What should be done with Jason Zucker, Tristan Jarry, and Brian Dumoulin, whose contracts have ended? 

The team’s bottom six is a major red flag as well. At one point in the season, the third line was the worst in the league in point differential, and the fourth line did not do much better throughout the season.  

With likely around $15 million in cap space after a couple of signings, the team will need to look for new players.

Looking to trade away some players for cap space could be an option for the Penguins. A rebuild should be closer than further out for this team, meaning that unloading valued players packaged with a low-talent player who has a bad contract could be a good choice.

The Penguins have dealt with problems before and would still manage to make the playoffs. Without a playoff push this year, the team has just about nothing. Big changes need to be made.