Let's flashback to the end of June, before the Pittsburgh Pirates were on a serious pennant race and before the Pittsburgh Steelers arrived for camp in Latrobe, the Pittsburgh Penguins were in contention to land the biggest names on the free agent market. Now with the free agency period over a month old, the Penguins have yet to make a move to improve the team or to fill the void left by the departed Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek. With the uncertainty of whether the NHL season will begin as planned in October or whether it will be halted by the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, it is unlikely that Ray Shero will make any major moves with a season that is up in the air.
You can cross your fingers and wait for Shane Doan to sign in Pittsburgh or you can realistically look ahead at moves that could be made at the 2013 NHL trade deadline to push the Penguins into a race for the Stanley Cup. Although the Penguins might struggle down the NHL stretch with a defense that lost a veteran presence and no longer having a third line center that will put up numbers like Jordan Staal, the Penguins still have potential to make a run at the Atlantic Division title. Instead of starting the NHL season at the salary cap ceiling, the Penguins can have the luxury of being able to be buyers come the trade deadline. With the unknown status of labor negotiations, it makes more sense for the Penguins to wait until there is more certainty with the impending season.
There is optimism with the current state of the Penguins roster in terms of hopes of having a healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the majority of the season for the first time since the 2009-2010 season. The Penguins also have a dynamic goaltending tandem with the acquisition of Tomas Vokoun who will assist Fleury with the 82 game workload. The holes still remain in the defensive roster that was torn to pieces in six games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers. A healthy Kris Letang is a priority as well as Paul Martin returning to his earlier form that earned him a long term contract with the Penguins in 2010.
The Penguins opening night roster will be nothing like their roster on the opening night of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. Instead of overpaying for players holding out on their free agency, the Penguins and their fans need to be patient. Adding a hodgepodge of players still left on the market is not the answer, wait it out and start putting together a wish list for players that could be putting on the black and Vegas gold after the trade deadline. It will be worth the wait.