PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 22: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins leads the line of his team as they give the traditional handshake to memebers of the Philadelphia Flyers after the Flyers defeated the Penguins 5-1 in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 22, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Despite trading Jordan Staal, the Penguins have acquired a strong collection of talent to address their needs this offseason, and appear prepared to challenge for the top of the Eastern Conference once again.
With the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting this past June's NHL draft, many expected GM Ray Shero to make a splash at the podium, but few expected the bold moves he executed on the floor of CONSOL Energy Center.
Making the decision to trade one of the franchise's "big three" center, Shero would send Jordan Staal to Carolina for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin, and the eighth overall pack, which went to select WHL standout defensemen Derrick Pouliot, while their own pick later in the round went to select London's Olli Maatta. With the addition of two more talented players to their defensive depth, Shero went on to trade Zbynek Michalek to the Phoenix Coyotes, freeing up the cap space for locking up Sidney Crosby to a new twelve year contract.
Turn, Turn, Turn
The moves at the draft were not the only changes to the roster in the Steel City. With concerns over the performance of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the postseason, the club would acquire the rights to pending free agent Tomas Vokoun from the Washington Capitals. The veteran netminder would be signed to a two year deal, providing the club with his big game experience - if his health can stand up under the potential workload.
The club also worked to improve their bottom six beyond the addition of Sutter, signing Tanner Glass to replace the departing Aaron Asham, and hometown d-man Dylan Reese to compete for a spot in the club's bottom pair.
Even with the changes, the club has done an impressive job of maintaining their core strengths while addressing their weaknesses. The majority of their core talent is signed into the 2014 season, with room under the cap to bring their new talent forward as they mature, or find the right fit if the club needs to make additional changes once they hit the ice.
Though their rivals in the Eastern Conference have all made their own changes and improvements over the past few months, the Penguins remain one of the most powerful organizations in the NHL. With all things considered, it seems likely that they are prepared to march their way towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs once again.