Penguins season preview: Jarry, staying healthy, keys to success

The 2022-23 NHL season begins on October 7. With training camps now open, NHL.com takes a look at three keys, the inside scoop on roster questions and the projected lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Coach: Mike Sullivan (eighth season)

Last season: 46-25-11, third in Metropolitan Division. lost to the New York Rangers in the first round of the Eastern Conference

3 KEYS

1. Stay healthy

Last season started with a first line center Sidney Crosby out for 12 of Penguins first 13 games due to wrist surgery and COVID-19 and second-line center Evgeni Malkin offseason until Jan. 11 recovering from offseason knee surgery. These two, and ahead Jason Zucker, Brian Rust, Teddy Blutger and Brock McGinn, all played fewer than 70 games. Pittsburgh survived those problems and reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but better health from key players is paramount for the Penguins, who will try to win a postseason series for the first time since 2018.

2. Consistent depth rating

Crosby, 35, Malkin, 36, and Jake Gunzel (40 team goals) cannot be expected to carry the scoring alone. The Penguins are hoping for repeat performances from Rust, who had an NHL career-high 58 points (24 goals, 34 assists) in 60 games and signed a six-year contract on May 22. Dandon Heinen, who scored an NHL-best 18 goals. and Jeff Carter after his best offensive season (45 points, 19 goals, 26 assists) since 2016-17 for the Los Angeles Kings (66 points, 32 goals, 34 assists). It will also need a healthy Zucker to contribute. Injuries have limited the four-time 20-goal scorer to a total of 79 games over the past two seasons.

3. Repeat from Jarry

Tristan Jarry answered any questions about his ability to be the NHL’s No. 1 goaltender last season. Among goaltenders who played at least 30 games, he was sixth in goals against average (2.42), tied with Ville Husso sixth in save percentage (.919) and allowed two goals or fewer in 34 of 56 starts. Jarry was at his best when the Penguins needed him, going 18-6-4 with a 1.91 GAA, .932 save percentage and three shutouts in 28 games (27 starts) before Malkin returned to give the Penguins a full lineup. He will need to maintain a similar high level of play this season.

Video: Top 15 Tristan Jarry Saves from the 2021-22 season

ROSTER UPGRADE

Making the cut

Although the Penguins rebuilt their defense group with his acquisitions Jeff Petry, Ty Smith and Jan Ruta, Pierre-Olivier Joseph could have a chance to earn an NHL spot this season. The 23-year-old has five points (one goal, four assists) in 20 NHL games, but tied for ninth among American Hockey League defensemen last season with 10 goals in 61 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. His size (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) and offensive ability could give him a chance to push Smith (5-11, 180) for a spot on the third pairing and second power-play unit.

The most interesting addition

Petry and forward Ryan Pauling acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on July 16 for a defenseman Mike Matheson and a fourth-round pick in the 2023 NHL draft. The Penguins hope the Petry they get is the one who had four straight seasons of at least 11 goals and 40 points from 2017-21, rather than 27 points (six goals, 21 assists) in 68 games last season. Petry (6-3, 209) has the size and smarts to get the puck out of the defensive zone quickly. If he can find his offensive touch again, he will make the offense much deeper.

The biggest possible surprise

Valtteri Puustinen tied for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scoring lead with 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists) in 73 games last season and had one assist in one NHL game. The 23-year-old forward doesn’t have typical NHL size (5-9, 183), but a strong training camp could earn him attention for a top-nine forward spot.

Ready to overcome

Kasperi Kapanen he is 26 years old and needs to show that he can be a valuable part of the present and the future. He scored 11 goals in 40 games in 2020-21, but last season he had 11 in 79 and two in his last 39 and had a 21-game goal drought at the end of the season that included the seven-game loss to Rangers in the opener. round. Kapanen will likely start the season on the third line, but the Penguins would benefit from him earning a bigger role.

Fantasy bedroom

Richard RaquelLW/RW (fantasy average draft position: 170.0) — He had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and 38 rebounds (2.00 per game) in 19 games after being acquired by the Anaheim Ducks on March 21 and then signed to a six-year contract on July 11. Rakell played on multiple lines for Pittsburgh last season, but could be a deep sleeper if he ends up on the second line with Malkin (1.17 points per game, third among active NHL skaters who played at least 150 games). — Pete Jensen

ANTICIPATED LINEUP

Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Bryan Rust

Jason Zucker — Evgeni Malkin — Rickard Rakell

Danton Heinen — Jeff Carter — Kasperi Kapanen

Ryan Poehling — Teddy Blueger — Brock McGinn

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Marcus Peterson — Jeff Petry

Ty Smith — Jan Rutta

Tristan Jarry

Casey DeSmith

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