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Through the aboriginal two weeks of the 2013-2014 NHL season, the Pittsburgh Penguins accept enjoyed a fast alpha (5-1), as some new faces—coupled with some old ones—have the Pens sitting aloft the Metropolitan Division standings.
Having absent five players from aftermost year’s aggregation in the offseason (Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy, Douglas Murray) and three others due to abrasion (James Neal, Kris Letang, Tomas Vokoun), the Pens accept undergone a cogent makeover.
Many in the hockey apple were acquisitive to see how this year’s team would perform.
While the final judgement on whether the Pens’ new additions performed up to expectations won’t be fabricated until aing summer, let’s booty a look—albeit a abortive one—at the newest Pens and brand their achievement appropriately far.
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Acquired by accepted administrator Ray Shero to add acceleration and scoring abyss to the basal of the Penguins’ advanced rotation, Matt D’Agostini was accepted to accept an appulse on the ice.
Unfortunately, due to a lower anatomy abrasion suffered aboriginal on in training camp, the alone appulse D’Agostini has had is on the trainers’ table in the Pens’ locker allowance and on a bench in the columnist box.
In his absence, adolescent chargeless abettor Chuck Kobasew has performed able-bodied in the role that Shero apparently had envisioned for D’Agostini, so there is not activity to be a lot of ice time aback he does return.
While it is activity to be a connected division and there will be opportunities for him to appearance the dust and accomplishment that the Pens are attractive for, D’Agostini will be aggressive for ice time with Dustin Jeffrey, Craig Adams, Joe Vitale and Kobasew.
This may prove too big of a assignment for alike a above 20-goal scorer.
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When you are the advancement goaltender for a star-studded aggregation like the Penguins, you don’t accept to be an assertion mark. You aloof charge to not be a catechism mark.
Unfortunately, Jeff Zatkoff’s comedy in a 6-3 accident to the Florida Panthers raises questions as to whether he can hold bottomward the acropolis until Tomas Vokoun is able to acknowledgment to the ice.
With best goaltending affairs like Eric Hartzell, Matt Murray and 2014 second-round aces Tristan Jarry cat-and-mouse in the wings for their befalling and with Zatkoff entering the aftermost year of his contract, he can’t allow to lose the aplomb of the apprenticeship agents or management if he is to abstain the alarming characterization of “career accessory leaguer.”
Fortunately for Zatkoff, CapGeek.com indicates that the Pens accept actual little actual cap space, which banned their adeptness to accompany in chargeless agents.
However, Shero has apparent a alertness and adroitness for making deals to abode aggregation needs. He will not alternate to do so afresh if Zatkoff struggles and Marc-Andre Fleury has to buck too abundant of the goaltending burden.
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Having been affected to barter Tyler Kennedy to the San Jose Sharks to bright cap amplitude at aftermost summer’s NHL draft, Shero knew he bare to add speed, dust and a right-handed attempt to the roster.
He begin all three in Chuck Kobasew.
After actuality arrive to training affected for a tryout, Kobasew was able to acquire a agenda atom with a able preseason and signed a one-year, $550,000 contract.
Thus far, Kobasew has connected his able comedy and becoming the assurance of arch drillmaster Dan Bylsma. Pittsburgh’s arch drillmaster has acclimated him up and bottomward the lineup, including on both the power-play and penalty-killing units.
While it is still aboriginal in the division and his opportunities may abatement aback James Neal and Matt D’Agostini acknowledgment from injuries, Kobasew has tallied two goals, is a plus-two and has averaged added than 13 account of abrasive and defensively complete hockey in anniversary d appropriately far.
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Ever aback he was drafted with the 22nd all-embracing aces in the 2012 NHL draft, Olli Maatta has been on the fast clue to a atom on the Penguins’ dejected line.
While the acceptance was that Maatta’s NHL admission would be delayed by the Pens’ arresting depth, his able training camp—combined with injuries and Simon Despres’ struggles—created an befalling and he has bedeviled it with both hands.
Although alone 19 years of age, Maatta has looked like an NHL adept and alike fatigued comparisons to Sergei Gonchar for his abiding puck-handling and acute decision-making.
Since Maatta is accustomed to comedy alone nine amateur in the NHL after starting the alarm on his contract, the Pens’ administration and apprenticeship agents accept a bind on their hands.
Based on his play, the best is between making the wise business decision—sending Maatta down—or the wise hockey decision—keeping him in Pittsburgh.
As smart, adaptable defensemen are at a exceptional in the NHL, I accept a activity that the Pens will accept the latter.
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In aboriginal July, Shero told Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the accommodation to let Rob Scuderi leave in 2009 was one that he has regretted anytime since.
Fortunately, he was able to actual that aberration and active Scuderi to a four-year, $13.5 actor arrangement this accomplished summer to accompany adherence to the Pens’ dejected line.
Although his closing partner, Kris Letang, has yet to see the ice due to injury, Scuderi has had an actual and abstruse impact.
Through six games, Scuderi is a plus-six and averaging added than 20 account of ice time per game. He’s currently arena alongside Matt Niskanen, who has benefited badly from Scuderi’s presence.
While abounding were afraid that the Pens would appetite or alike could allow to accompany Scuderi back, the allotment on the advance have far outweighed the banking cost, as he has been every bit the amateur Shero regretted accident years ago.
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