The Pittsburgh Penguins will need help next season. They’ve failed badly in the opening round of the NHL postseason in consecutive seasons, and the GM has promised changes. One of the Penguins’ needs and probably their primary need in the offseason, besides the Tin Man’s heart, is a top-line right wing.
The Penguins desperately need a top-line RW.
GM Jim Rutherford tried to resurrect the Sid and the Kids line for one more run at Stanley Cup glory, but the Penguins re-acquisition of Conor Sheary at the NHL trade deadline was far more bust than boom. Sheary had four points in eight games before the pandemic pause but was largely ineffective in the postseason.
He’s a free agent and highly unlikely to return.
Penguins winger Bryan Rust was tied at the RW hip to center Evgeni Malkin for most of the season until Game 4 of the Qualifying Round Series. Rust set a career-high with 27 goals and was a perfect complement to Malkin.
Patric Hornqvist hasn’t played well with Crosby for several years and is not a long-term option on the Pittsburgh Penguins top line. Hornqvist, and his $5.3 million salary, may also be a salary cap casualty, too.
So, who are the UFA RWs?
The Penguins are not a team that can plug-and-play any ol’ player. A higher hockey IQ is required to play with Sidney Crosby. A college degree isn’t necessary, but speed to get to the open spots, retrieve pucks and finish are job requirements.