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Penguins What Ifs: Jarry was Healthy, Trades Not Possible Before Camp…

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Tristan Jarry

The end of last season and the surprises of both the Pittsburgh Penguins and NHL offseason has created a few perceptions and obstacles for the path forward. As captain’s practices and training camp loom in the coming few weeks, the Penguins are coming into focus and absent a prescience sight into the unpredictability, there are a few what-ifs for the organization and fans alike.

Months later, there remains a steadfast belief amongst the ticket-buying faithful that the dynasty is over and only retirement banner ceremonies remain. The fall of the empire without a perceived fortification of the walls has left some with a distaste and the organization with slower ticket sales despite a North American-best 16 consecutive playoff appearances.

For many cities, a single playoff appearance would be a welcome result.

For Pittsburgh, there is a large “why bother” sentiment growing. And that lingering disappointment leads our what-ifs…

Pittsburgh Penguins What Ifs

1) What if Jarry is healthy in May?

Imagine if the Penguins had either NHL goalies against the New York Rangers in Round One. Do they win? High probability.

What if the Penguins beat the Rangers? I indeed liked their chances against the Carolina Hurricanes, too.

So, what if the Penguins arrived in the Eastern Conference Final last June? Fans would have felt better. There would have been less distress surrounding the new contracts for Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. Perhaps excitement for the upcoming season would exist instead of the feet-shuffling walk forward on the first night of a wake.

GM Ron Hextall seems to be operating under that possibility rather than the end result. The offseason moves represented a continuation more than a change, though the flurry of moves to procure Jeff Petry in place of John Marino was inspired work that created an impressive blue line.

2) What if another Penguins trade isn’t available?

After discussing with the other PHN staff (that means Dave Molinari), we perhaps have differing opinions on the current operations and potential. At the risk of swallowing my words like a plate of dry Brussel sprouts, it seems the NHL trade market is closed to the PittsburghPenguins.

Sacrifice not swap will solve the salary cap predicament.

Several players on NHL contracts are in trouble in the successive “what if” should additional trades not be available. The Penguins have eight defensemen on NHL-only contracts and 14 forwards. They are $1.4 million over the salary cap.

They can easily live with seven and 13.

Molinari has been over the situation with defenseman Ty Smith. Even with Smith in WBS, the Penguins’ salary cap situation is problematic and a red number. Two players may find themselves making the lonely trip across I-80. Though Rt. 6 is lovely if you have the time.

It seems P.O Joseph or Mark Friedman are in trouble. Chad Ruhwedel, Ryan Poehling, and even Josh Archibald shouldn’t buy green bananas without a good training camp performance.

Even with two more demotions, the Penguins would lack the salary cap to recall a player to fill a short-term injury or illness.

The Penguins lineup has quantity. Players who do not separate themselves could find themselves separated.

What if additional trades to clear cap space are not available? A couple of players may be lost via waivers or to the AHL.

3) What if Nicklas Backstrom is out for most of the season?

The Penguins-Capitals rivalry may not extend to the standings, as it has done since 2007. The Washington Capitals will fight for a playoff spot with Dylan Strome as their second-line center in the physical Metro Division.

The wild card race could be interesting as Washington slips, the Islanders settle into a more middling spot, and we could see a surprise team like the Columbus Blue Jackets or Ottawa Senators make a real run at a playoff spot.

And you might see a new team at PPG Paints in Round One.

And who knows, with a healthy goalie, maybe Round Two…

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Chris R
Chris R
1 month ago

Losing Friedman’s scrappiness would stink. It’s fun to have someone who gets things going but not in an “I’m going to kill you” way. Speaking of which, why isn’t anyone concerned about the Rangers? They went from victim to bully in one season. Now that Trouba’s brand of violence has been stamped and approved, you can expect them to ride roughshod over whomever (and whichever officials) lets them get away with it. Four games is more than enough to take out key Penguins for long periods. Preventative measures are needed.

Wasnt
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris R

Agree. It’s not what if Jarry was healthy but if Pens didn’t get pounded like bitches by the Rangers. This year will be the same. Great regular season then take the ass beating in the playoffs. Until Pens figure away to get some toughness it’ll be same ole same ole no matter who’s in goal.

Irish Hammer
Irish Hammer
1 month ago
Reply to  Wasnt

Wasn’t, Amen it will be fun to watch and hear the complaints! Zucker injuries? Wait to Malkin gets hammered. On the Capitals situation. They have a great GM. They can clear salary. If they need Salary, they’ll make moves to clear it. Always have.

Harry B.
Harry B.
1 month ago

Figure on Zucker being on LTRI for the season…he makes Beau Bennett look like an ironman!

HarkeyPuck
HarkeyPuck
1 month ago
Reply to  Harry B.

Wow Beau Bennett. I mean I get what you’re saying. But that’s really stretching it.

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