2013-14 record: 51-24-7, 109 points, 1st in Metropolitan Division, 2nd in Eastern Conference
2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Lost to New York Rangers in seven games in second round
Additions: D Christian Ehrhoff, F Patric Hornqvist, F Nick Spaling, F Blake Comeau, F Steve Downie, G Thomas Greiss
Subtractions: F James Neal, F Jussi Jokinen, D Matt Niskanen, D Brooks Orpik, D Deryk Engelland, F Tanner Glass, F Joe Vitale, F Brian Gibbons
Pending Free Agents: G Tomas Vokoun (UFA)
Promotion candidates: D Brian Dumoulin, D Derrick Pouliot, D Scott Harrington, F Harry Zolnierczyk, F Adam Payerl, D Philip Samulesson
Top 2014 NHL Draft picks: F Kasperi Kapanen (No. 22)"
One of Johnston's first acts as Penguins coach was to reach out to forward Sidney Crosby, who decided against having offseason surgery on an injured wrist. "We didn't talk a lot about the injury," Johnston said. "We talked more about how he's feeling, sort of the situation with the team, how the team was, just different dynamics. It's a chance to interact with him and get a feel for where he's at, and I knew him a little bit before but I never really sat down and talked to him extensively like that."
Rutherford didn't take long to make his mark on the team, firing Bylsma and hiring Johnston as well as trading forward James Neal during the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft to the Nashville Predators in exchange for forwards Patrick Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Neal, a former 40-goal scorer, was a pillar on Pittsburgh's second line next to forward Evgeni Malkin.
But Neal was criticized for making questionable decisions on the ice, which played a factor in him being traded, Rutherford said. Hornqvist will most likely take the place of Neal or forward Jussi Jokinen, who signed with the Florida Panthers during free agency, next to Malkin.
Hornqvist could benefit from playing next to Malkin in much the same way Neal did after being traded to Pittsburgh from the Dallas Stars during the 2010-11 season. Defenseman Matt Niskanen, who was also involved in that 2010-11 trade, signed with the Washington Capitals during free agency along with defenseman Brooks Orpik. A hole was left in the Penguins' defensive corps, which was partially filled by the signing of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
The expected pairings of defensemen Kris Letang and Paul Martin, and defensemen Olli Maatta and Ehrhoff seem set, but there remains opportunity for a young player to make a mark on Pittsburgh's defense. Defenseman Simon Despres could receive another chance to live up to his potential under a new regime. Defensemen Brian Dumoulin, who has played in six NHL games, and Derrick Pouliot, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, could also earn a spot on the opening-night roster.
"It's always an opportunity," Dumoulin said. "Even last year and coming into this year, coming into training camp, I just want to prove to them that hopefully I can make that team, and I'm going to do everything from now until that point to put myself in the best position to have an opportunity. So I'm looking forward going into this training camp."
The Penguins will enter the season looking vaguely familiar to the team they were a year ago. They are still headlined by Crosby, Malkin, Letang and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. That core remains intact"
MAF is the last year of his contract so he needs to do something this year.