Here at PenguinPoop we are taking a hard look at whether or not the Pittsburgh Penguins organization needs to make any changes. Third up is Doug MacRay.
What should the Penguins do in the off season? Here are some things they should and shouldn’t do.
Let’s start with what they shouldn’t do…
They shouldn’t fire anyone on the coaching staff. This is the third straight year they have had an early exit from the playoffs. Last year was due to injuries, but this year should have been different. I agree. However, they lost in the first round to the Philadelphia Flyers, a 100+ point team that has had the Penguins number all year (I feel sick writing that, but it is true). If the Penguins finished strong at the end of the year and played a different opening round team and then lost to Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference finals, no one would be upset. But they played the Flyers in the first round. They were out played and out coached. But Dan Bylsma or anyone on his staff shouldn’t be fired because of this early exit. We are complaining about someone who has won a cup, made the playoffs every year, and is considered one of the best young coaches in the league right now. Disco Dan will learn from his mistakes and be an even better coach because of this loss. Whatever happened to being happy that we are in the playoffs every year and have a chance to win the cup? We cannot follow almost every other team in the NHL and fire our coaches the second they have a bad playoffs or a bad year. Coaches are going to have bad series and bad years every once in a while. Give them some slack.
They shouldn’t trade Crosby, Malkin or Staal. The Penguins have built their team around these three and are hoping to keep them around for as long as they can. Shero is going to work as hard as he can to keep them together and he should. These three give us the best group of centers in the league and a solid foundation. The only way any of these guys will leave the Penguins are if they want to or if they retire. Ray Shero and the Penguins will attempt to resign Crosby and Staal this off season, but the upcoming CBA issue might make it difficult this summer.
Now onto what they should do…
They should find a way to get rid of Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek. Mostly because of poor play and their huge salaries. Both of them have a combined cap hit of $9 million for the next three years. When they were signed I couldn’t have been happier, now, not so much. In fact, if someone would offer a user puck bag for both of them I’d take it. Shero said that they believe their contracts are movable, so I’m hoping he’s right. If they can free up the cap space, this should give the Penguins more than enough room to sign Crosby, Staal and Malkin to new deals this year and next. They should bring up more of their young defensemen. Simon Despres, Brian Strait, Ben Lovejoy, and Joe Morrow should all be on the Penguins next year. With the exception of Morrow, the other three proved they are able to play in the NHL and should be given the chance. They are cheaper than Martin and Michalek. Give them playing time and let them learn. If they are not working out we can trade them at the deadline. Remember Alex Goligoski?
They need to find a better backup goaltender. Brent Johnson struggled this year and couldn’t push Marc-Andre Fleury, let alone give him a break. Whoever is behind Fleury on the depth chart needs to play better when they are called upon. They need to push Fleury to play better. I don’t know who it should be, Johnson, Thiessen or someone else, they will need to play better than they did this year.
Next year this team should be a younger team. They will have a younger defense and possibly with some of the older players either not being resigned or let go, hopefully some of the younger forwards will get more time too.