2008/09: 45-28-9 (2nd in Atlantic, 4th in East)
Arrived: Michael Rupp (NJ), Jay McKee (STL), Brent Johnson (WSH)
Departed: Hal Gill (MTL), Rob Scuderi (LA), Petr Sykora (UFA), Philippe Boucher (Retired), Mathieu Garon (CBJ)
What a year it was for the young Penguins. They secured a core of young stars and won a Stanley Cup after Marian Hossa left to the eventual Cup losing Detroit Red Wings. Does the magical run of two Stanley Cup finals end here, or does the fairy tale continue delivering happy endings? There’s no reason to think that the Penguins are going anywhere but up in the Eastern conference. Crosby and Malkin are easily two of the top three players in the world and have proven that one can play without the other at any point in time. Although the loss of Hal Gill, Philippe Boucher, and Rob Scuderi may hurt their defence, Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski are looking to step up and show that they are ready to be relied on night in, night out. If the team plays even close to its potential, the Penguins will easily make the playoffs and make another deep run.
FANTASY WORTH FORWARDS:
Sidney Crosby (C): You know exactly what you’ll get with this guy. He’s one of the best playmakers in the game right now. He just helps make pucks find the back of the net. He will get 100 points again this year if he plays all 82 games, and even if he doesn’t he might only need 70 games to hit triple digit points. Crosby has a higher point-per-game rate over his career than both Malkin and Ovechkin. Crosby also puts up his fair share of PIMs with 120, 70 and 103 the last 3 years respectively. Should go first, second, or third overall in your draft depending on scoring settings.
Evgeni Malkin: The other ultimate fantasy player on the Penguins who will also put up huge numbers after hitting triple digits in the last two years and leading the league last season in points. He also puts up his fair share of PIMs with 80, 70 and 80 respectively in the last three years. Malkin also had the best playoff performance since Joe Sakic, impressive to say the least and I don’t think we’ve actually seen the best of this guy. Like Crosby he is a top 3 pick along with Ovechkin.
Chris Kunitz: It’s hard to dismiss a guy playing on a team with guys with as much skill as the Penguins. Kunitz is also quite skilled himself and should put up some very serviceable numbers, somewhere in the range of 65-75 points.
Keep an eye on: Bill Guerin, Jordan Staal
DRAFT WORTHY DEFENCEMEN:
Sergei Gonchar: Although age may play a factor, he’s sure to be up there with the best in points this season as the team pretty much lets him do his thing because of his amazing offensive skill. Expect 60 points if he can stay healthy…if.
Keep an eye on: Alex Goligoski, Kris Letang – Depending on opportunities with PP and such, these players can be extremely serviceable players on any fantasy roster.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Marc-Andre Fleury – Fleury emerged as one of the top goaltenders in the league with his stellar performance throughout the 08/09 playoffs. Although he only chalked up 35 wins during the regular season, partly due to the Penguins’ poor performance early on and the 13 games he missed because of an injury, he’s the real deal. The only question mark is his ability to stay healthy as he missed another 27 games in 07/08 with a bad ankle. If injury-free you can easily expect 40-45 wins from Marc-Andre in the coming season and an improvement on his 2.67 GAA.