COACH: Mike Sullivan (407-243-88 in 11 seasons, 337-187-65 in nine seasons with Pittsburgh) .
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 10 vs. Chicago.
DEPARTURES: D Jeff Petry, D Brian Dumoulin, F Jason Zucker, F Danton Heinen, F Mikael Granlund, G Casey DeSmith.
ADDITIONS: D Erik Karlsson, D Ryan Graves, C Lars Eller, F Reilly Smith, C Noel Acciar.
GOALIES: Tristan Jarry (24-13-7, 2.90 GAA, .909 save percentage), Magnus Hellberg (4-8-1, 3.29, .885) and Alex Nedeljkovic (5-7-2, 3.53, .895).
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK STANLEY CUP ODDS: 22-1.
LAST SEASON: The longest active playoff streak in North American sports ended at 16 when the Penguins failed to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006. Pittsburgh's 40-31-11 finish was one point shy of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
STRENGTHS: The Penguins won't lack for scoring options, especially with Karlsson — the reigning Norris Trophy winner — joining Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang, among others. The power play will be star-studded but could use a dash of selfishness. Karlsson's arrival may help encourage more shooting and less passing.
WEAKNESSES: Pittsburgh's bottom six last season was essentially an anchor that played a significant factor in the club missing the postseason. That needs to change to take some of the pressure off Crosby and company, all of whom are in their mid-to-late 30s.
WHAT TO EXPECT: The Penguins are intent on maximizing whatever time they have left of the Crosby/Malkin/Letang era. First-year general manager/director of hockey operations Kyle Dubas spent most of the summer trying to do some of the damage inflicted by former GM Ron Hextall's ineffective regime. Karlsson and Ryan Graves helped make Pittsburgh's blue line markedly better and there should be better depth up front. A return to the playoffs is likely if their aging core can stay healthy, a big “if” at this point in their careers.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jarry is a two-time All-Star but also a bit of an enigma. He has yet to play a game beyond the first round of the postseason, and the decision to give him a five-year contract was curious. When he's on, he's a top 10 goaltender. When he's not, he's anonymous. With little behind him, the Penguins are betting heavily that Jarry can be steady enough to help them make a deep run playoff run in the spring.
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