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Saturday, June 29, 2013

State of the Penguins by @LCJS

With the NHL Draft this weekend, prospects will be picked and franchises will hope to find future talent. However, you have to put forethought into the draft, as most players are a few seasons away from contributing. Until those players are ready, teams have to rely on already developed talent, and the Pens are no exception. Let's forget about Unrestricted Free Agents, like Dupuis and Cooke, who for the moment are currently without a contract, and take a look at how the roster currently sits (6/29/13):

Line 1A:
Sidney Crosby
Chris Kunitz

Line 1B:
Evgeni Malkin
James Neal
Beau Bennett

Line 3:
Brandon Sutter
Tyler Kennedy
Jussi Jokinen

Line 4 and Bench:
Joe Vitale
Tanner Glass
Dustin Jeffery
Harry Zolneirczyk
Steve MacIntyre

Top Defensive Paring:
Paul Martin
Kris Letang

2nd Defensive Paring:
Brooks Orpik
Simon Despres

3rd Defensive Paring and Bench:
Matt Niskanen
Robert Bortuzzo
Deryk Engalland

Marc-Andre Fleury
Tomas Vokoun

While these lines will be fluid heading into the season, I think it's a good starting point.

The phrase that we've heard over and over again rings true once more,

"Look, we've got to get Crosby a winger."

Re-signing someone like Pascal Dupuis would fill that void, just as it did before.  Trading Letang for that need is also a possibility.  At this point, it's the team's major, glaring need.

They could also use another d-man, especially if they deal away Letang, but the prospect pipeline is stocked with d-men so Letang's replacement needs only be here for the short term.  They should bring back a guy like Cooke as well, since a "pest" type of player is also missing.  Otherwise, this is a pretty solid team on paper.

With all the focus these days on Letang, it's easy to miss that the team will go on without him should he be traded.  He would bring back a hefty return in any trade, and it would fill some of the team's needs.  If he's not moved, then we keep a top offensive d-man for another season.

Once again, only some minor tweaking needs done to a lineup that made it to the Conference Finals last season.  Contracts and salary cap will dictate some actions, but generally this team is already built.  It only needs a few complementary pieces to reach its full potential...

As well as a scoring winger for Crosby.

Lee can be followed on Twitter at

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