In my timesonline.com column, I point out that the Penguins’ problems are minimal and easily fixed. Fill gaps by trading from your stockpile of defensive prospects.
There aren’t many holes. Another top-four defenseman is a must. Another top-six forward would be nice. Promoting Beau Bennett is worth a try regarding the latter.
One rumor has the Penguins sending defenseman Simon Despres to Minnesota for winger Devin Setoguchi, 26..
On paper, that looks OK. Setoguchi has netted 92 goals over the last four seasons, though he dropped to just 19 last year. You’d think he’d prosper with one of the stud centers, but Setoguchi is 6 feet, 200 pounds and doesn’t play big. He’s a finesse guy that isn’t very tough to play against. But maybe that’s all you can get for Despres.
When I say the Pens are too easy to play against, it’s not all about planting foes with body checks, or about the hack and whack. I don’t care if the opposition gets concussed, bruised or aggravated. I just don’t want them constantly hitting the Pens’ blue line with speed. It’s far too easy getting the puck through the neutral zone against the Penguins.
Even if the Penguins make no moves, they can get to where they want to go simply by PLAYING BETTER. With their talent, that’s all that’s required.
The structure of the Penguins is at stake over the next few seasons. Another early playoff exit would require ownership to consider the future of GM Ray Shero and Coach Dan Bylsma, and the makeup of their star-studded roster. There’s no point sustaining the management or nucleus of a team that continually underachieves.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.