The summer is always an interesting time in the NHL. Teams both trade and sign new players to their organization, hoping they’re the key to a fortuitous playoff run. In the case of the Pittsburgh Penguins, they’ve had an outstanding history of acquiring the right guys. Their luck with new players could continue this year as they’ve been able to snag some more talent.
Two Key Pieces in the 2015 Offseason
There are two players that stand as testaments to Pittsburgh’s ability to find the right guy for the right job. One of these players is Nick Bonino. Bonino was drafted 173rd overall in the 2007 draft by the San Jose Sharks. Since being drafted, he bounced from team to team until the Penguins signed him in the 2015 offseason. Before his success can be mentioned, there’s another player a lot like Bonino.
Matt Cullen retired from the NHL in 2019, but he’s not going to be forgotten anytime soon. Like Bonino, he was unable to really call any one team home as he was on seven different teams during his 21 season career. This is an astonishing number as he was a solid player, seemingly able to lead both the power play and the penalty kill. Cullen was also signed by Pittsburgh in the 2015 offseason.
Little did the Penguins know that Bonino and Cullen were going to be massive parts of their back-to-back Stanley Cup victories in 2016 and 2017. They were signed to fill out the depth of the lineup, but they became so much more than that. If it weren’t for either of these players, it would be easy to speculate that the Penguins wouldn’t have captured the cup either year.
What About This Year’s Acquisitions?
The Penguins did make some splashes in free agency this year, the largest signing being Brock McGinn. McGinn, a fairly underrated two-way forward, was signed to a four-year, $11 million contract. Pittsburgh also signed Dominik Simon and recently re-signed Radim Zohorna as well as Zach Aston-Reese.
Now, the free agent splashes weren’t as big as signing Bonino or Cullen, but they are signing these guys for the same purpose. The third and fourth line suffered some losses with the departures of Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev, so the organization needed some more depth pieces. They got these in McGinn and Simon. Even then, Zohorna could start playing in the lineup more often.
Will these players have the same success as Bonino and Cullen did after they were signed? It’s hard to say because it’s not obvious what the bottom-six forward lines will look like. McGinn will likely take Tanev’s old spot on the fourth line with Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger. Who’s going to take McCann’s spot on the third line? It’s almost impossible to tell. It could be Simon, a prospect like Samuel Poulin or Kasper Bjorkqvist or the Penguins could add some more talent. There’s still a lot of time before the season starts, so the organization could throw some curveballs.
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