The Penguins have intentionally narrowed thier search for player personnel in an effort to solve two glaring dilemmas. One, to establish some immediate support for Mario and what may prove to be his final attempt at a Stanley Cup. Two, to lay the groundwork for the not-too-distant future as the Pens anticipate a new home.
The first issue is to give the club offensive and defensive options. Last season, when they needed to fill holes at the blueline due to injuries, they turned to Dollas and Kucera. Complete busts. When they needed role players to step in and score they pinned thier hopes on Corbet, Beranek, Primeau, and Laukkanen. No red lights were lit. The team got bigger and nastier with additions like Oliwa and Stevens. But they didn’t get faster and certainly not consistent. When one line opened it up, the others disappeared. Not enough players stepped up to change the outcome of the playoffs. Most critics cited depth. Why didn’t Hilinka utilze his other lines often? He didn’t trust that they would or could contribute, and often he was correct in his assumptions. Take Morozov. Please. Anyone.
Will Hrdina ever shoot enough to hit twenty goals, like so many people claim he has the ability to do? And anyone can tell you, when Slegr left so did what little blueline offense they had. Not that even that was much. Evidently the team needs to create offense on more levels. They need to bring speed and scoring to complement and somehow replace what was lost. They need wings that go into the corners and come out with the puck, that don’t shy away from the crease. They want forwards that crash, not dance to enhance and create opportunities for the fancy guys.
Two, they must develop tommorows stars today. When Mario departs ( for good? ) it will be imperative to ice a team that will still excite fans and fill a new arena? What better than big, nasty defenseman that make oposing skaters pay. Or gritty forwards that stand tall in the enemy crease? The franchise must develop it’s product now. It has to find new Jagrs and Kasparaitis’s. How about 6’5″ Darcy Robinson or 6’6″ David Koci? How about 6’3″ Michal Sivek or 6’3″ Kris Beech? How about Brooks Orpik, Milan Kraft, Robert Dome, or Andrew Ference? Will Michal Rozsival or Eric Meloche or Shane Endicott hoist a Cup with Mario?