Yohe: Penguins need to get younger
The Penguins' coaching staff and front office will receive plenty of attention this week.
At some point, the roster will be under the microscope. And when it is, a harsh reality will be evident: The Penguins have gotten old.
Of the 20 Penguins who participated in Game 7 against the New York Rangers, eight are 30 or older. Two other 30-somethings, defenseman Brooks Orpik and right wing Pascal Dupuis, likely would have been in the lineup had they been healthy.
Once the league's fresh-faced team, the Penguins should be searching for youthful legs this summer.
But getting younger in free agency isn't realistic, and the Penguins' system isn't blessed with an impact forward at the AHL level, though many young defensemen could be ready.
And while the Penguins' stars are still young, they aren't kids anymore.
This summer, Sidney Crosby turns 27 and Evgeni Malkin turns 28.
Mario Lemieux never won a Stanley Cup past 26. Wayne Gretzky won his last championship at 27. Hockey is a young man's game, and while the Penguins' stars aren't old by any stretch, their championship window isn't as wide as it once was.
Even goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who rebounded with one of his strongest NHL seasons, will turn 30 next fall.
The Penguins might lose one of their best younger players as defenseman Matt Niskanen, 27, is a free agent this summer and right wing James Neal, 26, will be the subject of summer trade rumors.
When the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009, seven of their skaters that night in Detroit were 30 or older.
They've gotten older since then, and few would argue that they've gotten better.
The Penguins have been hesitant to dispatch their veterans over the years out of concern that the organization's young talent wasn't ready to replace the older players.
It might be time to find out this summer, regardless of who the head coach and general manager are.
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.