The 2021-22 season was a successful one for the Pittsburgh Penguins. But, unfortunately, it ended way too soon in a Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers in Round 1. So, how long will Pittsburgh fans and the front office put up with not getting past the first round? It is a tricky answer to find. However, if something doesn’t change via the draft or free agency, then the Penguins will be wasting the plethora of talent they have on both sides of the puck.
Make sure to check out all of our other NHL Season Recaps.
By the Numbers
Power Play: 20.16% (12th)
Penalty Kill: 84.43% (3rd)
Goals For: 272 (11th)
Goals Against: 229 (5th)
The Penguins could make a case for having two players for the season to be the best, which are Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Both had 84 points in the regular season and 10 points in the playoffs. Crosby will always be the choice for most people, but fans will need to give Guentzel his due. Forty goals in the regular season and eight in the playoffs are worth noting. They will both be back next season, picking up right where they left off.
Kasperi Kapanen had all the hype coming into to season. However, looking back now, there is not much to say except that he didn’t live up to expectations. He had 11 goals and 32 points in 79 games for the regular season and only three assists in the playoffs. Kapanen appeared to be invisible at times, only to be mentioned or noticed at specific points of the game. Also, he was moved up and down the lines as the coaching staff was trying to fit him in. But it never quite worked. As a result, the Penguins will have difficulty deciding if he should stay or if he needs to go.
Behind the Bench Analysis
Mike Sullivan is signed through the 2023-24 season; as of right now, he is not going anywhere. So, we expect to see the same brand of Penguins hockey we saw this season and in past seasons. It is a style of play that has worked well for the team, and despite the loss to the Rangers, Sullivan believes the team is still on the right track. He always makes sure the team is playing to its strengths and minimizing its weaknesses. He continues to do this every season, and it has paid off every year.
Front Office Analysis
The general manager Ron Hextall will have his plate full with re-signing players or preparing to let them go or trade them. They have done an excellent job of keeping the team stacked to where they had a chance this season. A few decisions on a couple of players are questionable, but in the grand scheme of the season, they are mere bumps in the pathway to success.
2022 NHL Entry Draft Picks/Prognosis
As of right now, the Penguins have four draft picks in the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds. Since they are towards the bottom of the first round, they most likely will not draft a player who will make an immediate impact. However, depending on how contract negotiations pan out before the draft, we will not know what the Penguins are looking for. Depending on how things progress with Kris Letang, they may have an eye out for an offensive-minded defenseman.
Offseason Wish/Checklist & Prognosis for 2022-2023
The Penguins will need to upgrade their goaltending if they want to be in contention for next season’s playoffs. Tristan Jarry did his best, but if he is going to be the number one going forward, he will need a number two better than Casey DeSmith or Louis Domingue. Domingue kept them in the playoffs, giving them a chance, but he is still not an NHL goalie. They will also have a lot of decisions to make regarding contracts, and they have already started by re-signing Bryan Rust.
Follow Liz Pendergraft on Twitter @lizzibear824
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images