It’s been just over a month since the Penguins were ousted from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a truly painful game 7 against Montreal. If you haven’t had nightmares about that game by now, you might be dead.
That loss has sent us spiraling into the summer of uncertainty. The Penguins could look substantially different come October, thanks to the glory of the salary cap era. So while it’s the offseason and the Pirates are getting torched by Stephen Strasburg (kid has nastier stuff than a back alley whore), I thought it may be fun to take a few guesses as to what the 2010-11 Penguins opener will hold.
1. No Sergei Gonchar
This is a pretty easy one. Gonchar still thinks he has a multi-year deal left, we all know he doesn’t. Shero showed where his priorities lay when he re-signed Letang. Especially now that there has been an expensive precedent set for this offseason on defensemen (thanks, Dennis Seidenburg). His rifle from the point will be sorely missed, and one would have to believe that Letang and Goligoski will struggle to replace what Gonchar brought to the table, particularly in the first part of the season.
2. Number 1 being said, the Penguins will have a new winger on Sid’s line.
Will we have a welcome back party for Colby Armstrong? It’s not out of the realm of possibility. Sid will definitely push for the return of his old best friend. This spot could also be wide open for a guy like Lee Stempniak or Tomas Plekanec. All three of these guys would have cap hits between $2.5-$4M, which would easily be covered once Gonchar was gone. Come on, who from Pittsburgh wouldn’t LOVE to pull that dusty Colby Armstrong jersey out of the closet?
3. No Eric Tangradi….Yet.
Tangradi will absolutely be up for significant time next year, just not in October. The Pens will likely fill the bottom lines with guys like Nick Johnson, Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey. But it won’t take long before Tangradi will just be too beastly for the Baby Pens. Those who have been looking for a Ryan Malone replacement, let me introduce you to Big Dog Tangradi.
4. Unfortunately, no Anton Volchenkov.
Just can’t see it happening at this point. If the Pens can somehow, someway come up with a deal to sign Volchenkov at a reasonable price, I will turn tricks outside of Consol Energy Center just to get tickets.
5. Matt Cooke will beat the bejesus out of somebody
Cooke will celebrate his new 2 year contract by punching the first person who steps in the crease in front of Fleury. Everyone will still love him in Pittsburgh, which is why he’ll stay here. If you ever see Cooke and his family around town, you get the sense that they all really feel at home in Pittsburgh. If Shero offers him a deal slightly higher than what Cooke makes now, he’d immediately sign on that dotted line.
Feel free to tell me how wrong/awesome I am.