After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2021-22 regular season, which starts Oct. 12. Today, the Pittsburgh Penguins:
2020-21 season: 37-16-3, first in MassMutual East Division; lost in first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs
Brock McGinn, F: The 27-year-old signed a four-year contract July 28. He scored 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 37 regular-season games and four points (three goals, one assist) in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season. … Danton Heinen, F: The 26-year-old signed a one-year contract July 29 after scoring 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 43 games with the Anaheim Ducks last season.
Jared McCann, F: He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 17 for forward prospect Filip Hallander and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. McCann scored 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 43 regular-season games and had one assist in six playoff games last season. … Brandon Tanev, F: He was chosen by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft on July 21. Tanev scored 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 32 regular-season games and one goal in six playoff games last season. … Cody Ceci, D: He signed a four-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers on July 28. Ceci scored 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 53 regular-season games and had two assists in six playoff games last season. … Frederick Gaudreau, F: He agreed to a two-year contract with the Minnesota Wild on July 28 after scoring 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 19 regular-season games and three points (one goal, two assists) in six playoff games last season. … Mark Jankowski, F: He became an unrestricted free agent when the Penguins opted not to give him a qualifying offer. Jankowski scored 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 45 games last season.
On the cusp
Sam Poulin, F: The 20-year-old scored 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in 24 games with Sherbrooke and Val-d’Or in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. … Pierre Olivier-Joseph, D: The 22-year-old scored five points (one goal, four assists) and averaged 16:47 of ice time in 16 games with the Penguins last season, and scored 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in 23 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.
What they still need
More secondary scoring. With center Evgeni Malkin‘s status for the start of the season unknown while he recovers from surgery on his right knee, the Penguins will need forwards Jason Zucker and Kasperi Kapanen each to raise his level of play. Zucker scored 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 38 regular-season games and three points (two goals, one assist) in six playoff games last season; Kapanen scored 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in 40 games but had one goal in six playoff games. It was the third straight season Pittsburgh was eliminated in the first round.
They said it
“I think everything is bright about this organization. There’s nothing bad you can say about it. I think every single year they have a chance. And when it comes down to it, I didn’t want to go anywhere where I wasn’t going to have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. So when I looked at Pittsburgh, that was one of the top choices.” — forward Brock McGinn
The Penguins remain a safe team to target early in fantasy drafts with three players (Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Malkin) ranked among NHL.com’s top 50 and two more in the top 100 overall (Kris Letang, Bryan Rust). One sneaky player to consider in late rounds is veteran forward Jeff Carter, who was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on April 12. Carter combined to score 13 goals in 20 games for the Penguins in the regular season and playoffs, leading them in that span. — Pete Jensen
Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker — Jeff Carter — Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn — Evan Rodrigues — Danton Heinen
Zach Aston-Reese — Teddy Blueger — Sam Lafferty
Brian Dumoulin — Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson — John Marino
Mike Matheson — Pierre-Olivier Joseph