Pittsburgh Penguins: How Does Keeping Their Core Intact Affect Their Stanley Cup Chances?

By | July 21, 2022

For nearly the last two decades, NHL fans can count on the Pittsburgh Penguins to achieve some level of success. After the 2021-22 campaign, the Penguins have now made the playoffs in 16 consecutive years, winning three Stanley Cups over that stretch.

The main reason why the organization achieved all that success is because of three core players: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. The trio has been together since the very beginning, each playing a critical role in the three championship runs and still playing at an elite level to this day.

Having said that, Penguins fans dealt with the threat of Malkin and Letang potentially leaving the team during this offseason. Fortunately, the former avoid free agency thanks to a four-year, $24.4 million while the latter signed a six-year, $36.6 million extension.

With Malkin and Letang, along with Crosby, locked down for the near future, it’s clear that another Stanley Cup run is in the Penguins’ sights.

Penguins Stanley Cup Odds 2022-23

Below is a look at the early top-10 2022-23 Stanley Cup odds, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

  • Colorado Avalanche (+450)
  • Carolina Hurricanes (+1000)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (+1000)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (+1200)
  • Florida Panthers (+1300)
  • Vegas Golden Knights (+1400)
  • Edmonton Oilers (+1600)
  • New York Rangers (+1700)
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (+1800)
  • Minnesota Wild (+1800)

As you can tell, locking up their veteran core has led to the Penguins being tied with the Minnesota Wild at +1800 for the ninth-best odds to win next season’s Stanley Cup. Considering that Pittsburgh was eliminated in Round 1 of this year’s postseason, Penguins fans should be excited about those odds.

When it comes to the Eastern Conference, the Penguins’ championship odds rank fifth-best. The truth is that the East is absolutely stacked at the moment and even though Pittsburgh’s trio, as well as the rest of the team, is playing on a high level, they can’t avoid how fierce the rest of the competition is.

Crosby, Malkin, Letang Still Playing at High Level

Even though Crosby, Malkin and Letang are in their mid-30s, the Penguins are still a threat to win the Stanley Cup due to the trio still playing at a high level of hockey.

Crosby looked terrific last season despite dealing with injuries, tallying 31 goals and 54 assists for 85 points in just 69 games. For reference, that put him on pace for 100 points in an 82-game schedule, which isn’t something that most 34-year-olds are doing at this stage of their career.

Even though Malkin has played fewer than 70 games in nine of the last 10 seasons, he’s still an effective producer as well. He only played 41 games in 2021-22, but still managed to be a point-per-game player, racking up 42 points.

The Penguins are always competitors as long as Malkin (left), Letang (center) and Crosby (right) are on the roster.

Then there’s Letang, who’s still averaging nearly 26 minutes per game 17 years after being drafted. The Montreal, QC native continues to make the most of his playing time, having recorded 68 points in 78 games last season.

His efforts landed him seventh in Norris Trophy voting as the NHL’s top defense, marking his fifth time in the last eight seasons finishing inside of the top 10.

Not only are these three players still among the best in the league, but the important thing is that they want to play together. After Letang and Malkin were re-signed, Crosby wasted no time telling reporters that he was thrilled that the gang was kept together.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to play together for a long time, we’ve been through a lot. I think when you look at all those experiences, there’s a lot of belief, a lot of trust in one another.” – Sidney Crosby.

Malkin described the situation as being thrilled to be able to play with his “Canadian and French Canadian” brothers, while Letang added that it’s his goal to stay in Pittsburgh and “build something good here.”

Only time will tell if they can get the job done in the twilight of their careers.

Penguins Trio Isn’t Alone

While Crosby, Malkin and Letang are still among the best at what they do, they can’t win the Stanley Cup by themselves. Not anymore, at least. Fortunately, the Penguins have done a great job at surrounding them with talent that should make life easier.

Wingers Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust are back to help offensively. Guentzel was tied for the team lead with Crosby at 84 points last season, hitting the 40-goal mark for the second time in his career. Meanwhile, Rust set new career-highs in assists (34) and points (58).

The Penguins do have some changes on defense. John Marino was traded to the New Jersey Devils for Ty Smith while Mike Matheson was sent to the Montreal Canadiens in a deal centered around veteran defenseman Jeff Petry.

Petry is an improvement over both Marino and Matheson, which is a win for the Penguins. It remains to be seen if Smith can bounce back following a sophomore slump. If he can, Pittsburgh’s defensive core is in great shape.

Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith will also be back between the pipes. Both goaltenders played well last season and Jarry event finished seventh in Vezina Trophy voting. Continued play at that level is crucial for any success next season.

Can Crosby, Malkin and Letang Win Another Championship?

The Penguins have a solid team, but is it good enough to win a championship? The answer is simple: yes.

You can never say never in the NHL and even if the Penguins’ forward group could be better, they have multiple lines that can do damage. You can never count out the likes of Crosby, Malkin and Letang, who continue to prove people wrong even as they get older.

As long as Pittsburgh’s core can stay healthy throughout the 2022-23 season and into the playoffs, don’t count the Penguins out of the Stanley Cup race just yet.

The post Pittsburgh Penguins: How Does Keeping Their Core Intact Affect Their Stanley Cup Chances? appeared first on Betting News.

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