With the defense for the Pittsburgh Penguins set for the foreseeable future, we can now direct our attention to the offense where the marquee stars are: Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Over the years there has been speculation that Crosby needs to have a superstar winger in order to better the offense as well as his point production. Right now, it’s looking like his wingers will be Pascal Dupuis and Tyler Kennedy unless there is a trade, which is highly doubtful. Many thought that when the Penguins acquired winger Eric Tangradi from the Anaheim Ducks that he would be the answer to the problem but the young prospect is taking longer to develop and looks like he will be a checking line forward instead of the savior we dreamed of.
In the last 4 drafts the Penguins have only selected one forward in the first round (Beau Bennett, 20th overall 2010) and instead concentrated on the backend. With Simon Despres being drafted in 2009, Joe Morrow being drafted in 2011 and Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot being drafted in 2012, the backend is set for a very long time. The only forward prospects I’m excited about are Ben Hanowski of St. Cloud State University in the WCHA and Teddy Blueger of Minnesota State.
Hanowski comes from the high school hockey scene in Minnesota where he played for Little Falls and set the state record for most points in his senior season with 73 goals and 62 assists in only 31 games. His time at St. Cloud has seen him improve his point totals each year he has been there. Penguins fans won’t have to wait much longer to see Hanowski as he is scheduled to graduate this year.
Now lets turn our attention to Blueger. This Maverick has posted 12 points in 18 games so far this year as a freshmen and is seeing more playing time each day especially on the powerplay. Coming from the same high school Crosby played at for one year, he posted 24 goals and 64 assists for 88 points in 51 games while suiting up for Shattuck St. Marys. Born in Riga, Latvia Blueger had the chance to represent his country in the World Juniors in 2012 posting 3 points in 6 games. While he is just a freshmen, Pens fans will have to wait at least another year if not longer to see him in action, but when he makes his arrival expect him to make a splash.
I’m excited to see what the Penguins will look like in the next 5 years and see which prospects pan out or exceed expectations. The backend is set for quite some time with Kris Letang emerging as a star and loads of prospects looking to make an impact. While it is still uncertain who will be the superstar winger Crosby needs, one thing for certain is that the Penguins dynasty isn’t going anywhere for awhile.
Follow Rant Sports writer Taylor Hodges on Twitter: @THodges71