Sure, everyone wants to win every year, but sometimes you have to get that extra little bit of rest to come back and work even harder the next season and that's what I think the Pittsburgh Penguins will be all about again in the 2019 season.
The core group of this Penguins team is still intact and still well within their prime days, so there is absolutely no reason to shy away from this team, especially in a long regular season hockey pool. Their best players are still among the league's elite, there will be at least two 1st round picks from this group, you'd have to believe, maybe more, and the youth that they have been able to produce over the last few seasons has been incredible.
I don't think much really has to be said about the Penguins these days, but I'm doing every team in these posts, so it's all going to be said anyways.
Table last updated on August 11th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
One of the kids I've been most excited about in the Penguins' organization has been Daniel Sprong, described as a natural goal scorer. The 2015 2nd round pick has been toiling in the minors for a little while already, but the team's management has suggested that he's ready to make his mark at the top level and that makes him one of the more intriguing players in the coming season. If you're looking for entries for the rookie pool, assuming that it hits this year, then Sprong would be a very good candidate for a spot.
First Round Picks
Well, no matter how you cut it, the Penguins continue to look really stacked. I have them with three potential 1st round picks on their roster, but depending on how you may view their goaltending situation, it could just as easily be four picks. It's the forwards that really make it for me, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel are all a little more rested, after an early exit from the playoffs and they should be hungry for another big season.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The Penguins will be popular in their forward depth as well, when you consider Patric Hornqvist, Jake Guentzel, Derick Brassard and Bryan Rust are all good options, among those already mentioned in the post. Depending on how some of these guys line up, there could be another youngster or two that could get the boost into getting a look this year, but for now, I would be looking at these guys to get the season started.
Other Pool Worthy Defensemen
Points from the back end shouldn't be an issue for Pittsburgh either, as Kris Letang and Justin Schultz are a formidable 1-2 punch offensively and are expected to do some big things this season. You can also add both Olli Maatta and Jamie Oleksiak to the list of defenders you could probably have a look at a little later on in the draft as well.
The Penguins goaltending situation is a curious one, since Matt Murray has started to be an injury concern and the backup job was a pretty good split between Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith. The goaltending is going to get points, but how are you going to project this season's splits? If Murray can stay healthy and focused, he could just as easily lead all players in hockey pool scoring with his ability. My projection is extremely conservative, but I can definitely see the upside there.
Team to Pick From Late?
Most certainly. With the way injuries go in the NHL, just about anyone could line up with an exceptional centre or winger on this team and things can go well in a hurry for a plucky youngster with a nose for the net. Taking a flyer on a Dominik Simon or a Zach Aston-Reese might not be a terrible gamble late on.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
A team this stacked is going to cost a small fortune and indeed, the Penguins do that in spades. They have one of the lowest amounts of salary cap space available to them to start the season, currently running at about $745,000, but they have all their work done for this summer, so they're in good shape that way.
There are no real injuries to speak of for the Penguins, everyone appears to be happy and healthy before the start of training camp.