Lost in the shuffle amid trade speculation for a scoring left winger, the Pittsburgh Penguins are suddenly a bigger team. Through free agency, the Penguins have added big bodies to deal with the coming physical undercurrent of the NHL. The Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals are a large team, who used physicality to create space. Stanley Cup finalist Vegas Golden Knights were also a larger team, as were the conference finalist Winnipeg Jets and contenders Boston Bruins. This offseason, Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford is doing his part, too.
In 2016, the Penguins set the standard with a speed game. But the league caught up. Now, with the addition of Derek Grant, who is 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, and the potential roster spot for Jimmy Hayes, who is 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, the Penguins now have four forwards at 6-foot-3 and above, who weigh over 200 pounds. Riley Sheahan and Evgeni Malkin are the others.
Zach Aston-Reese could also figure into the mix. While he is “only” six feet tall, he is over 200 pounds.
Last season, the Penguins were small and quick. In the playoffs, the Penguins bottom six was dotted with three skilled wingers under six feet tall, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, and Dominik Simon.