The Pittsburgh Penguins were very active on July 1st and July 2nd after signing quite a few players. Most of them were for bottom six depth but they also got a backup goaltender and a defenseman. How would I grade what they have done thus far? Let’s take a look.
Christian Ehrhoff– When Christian Ehrhoff was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres, a ton of teams called. When the Penguins called and expressed interest, he immediatly wanted to go to Pittsburgh since he thinks it’s the best chance for him to win the Stanley Cup. The Penguins ended up signing for him to a one year deal worth $4 million and that’s very well the biggest steal of the offseason since Ehrhoff could’ve gotten a contract for five years at $25 million.
He’s going to be playing with Olli Maatta when he comes back from his shoulder surgery which may not be until November. He also may quarterback the power play too. Overall, this is a great signing for the Penguins and hopefully he would be interested in signing a long term extension after next season.
Bottom Six Depth- The Penguins really needed to get better on their third and fourth lines this season and they did exactly that. They let the dead weight go (Tanner Glass, Joe Vitale, Deryk Engelland) and replaced them with Blake Comeau, Steve Downie, and Marcel Goc. Not to mention Nick Spaling, who they got in the trade with Nashville, as he will play on the third line. Blake Comeau will play with either Marcel Goc or Brandon Sutter and he was a player who scored over 20 goals with the Islanders so he could be good this year.
Steve Downie was brought in as a physical player but he can also score. He played under Rick Tochett on a line with Steven Stamkos and scored over 20 goals. I don’t expect him to play with Crosby or Malkin but if he does, he could get some of that scoring touch back. He’ll most likely rotate between the third and fourth lines.
Marcel Goc was resigned for the fourth line center role and it was a good one. We will finally get to see the real Goc after he was mostly injured during his time in Pittsburgh after the trade deadline. He should post good numbers this year.
Goaltending- The Penguins signed a goaltender to maybe backup Marc-Andre Fleury this season in Thomas Greiss. He signed one year contract and will compete with Jeff Zatkoff for the backup position with the loser being sent down to the AHL. Overall, the Penguins have done very well in free agency and I’ll give them agrade of a B+. Let’s hope this roster can be a top contender in the East next season.