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Hurricanes closing the gap on the Penguins

September 9, 2019, 7:35 PM ET [96 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
We are still a little bit away from training camp and having legit NHL news for the Penguins. The prospects just finished up a tournament in Buffalo, but I don’t put much stock in those games. It’s nice for those players to put on the Penguins crest and get acclimated with Mike Velluci. At the end of the day it is still a three game sample against many players who will never sniff the NHL. Training camp performance against the NHL veterans is a better barometer for these prospects.

As for the big club Jim Rutherford thinks the 2019-20 teams is like the 2015-16 one

I obviously don’t share that viewpoint and think the Penguins are likelier to miss the playoffs than win the Stanley Cup for the first time in a long time. I’m not predicting the Penguins to miss the playoffs at this point, but other teams in the division are catching up. Washington should still be formidable as they avoided a serious Alexander Ovechkin injury scare this morning. The New Jersey Devils are markedly better after making some big additions in the offseason, namely PK Subban, Nikita Gusev, and Jack Hughes.

The team that is making the most noise are the Carolina Hurricanes. They just snagged Jake Gardiner on a four-year deal for 4.05M. That’s Erik Gudbranson money for those of you following at home. There are rumored back issues for Gardiner although it is tough to argue the risk reward play for the Hurricanes. Gardiner has been a really good player for the majority of his career. The Hurricanes have been shopping Justin Faulk for the last year or so and Gardiner’s addition gives them even more flexibility to shop him. It appears they are targeting Ondrej Kase from Anaheim.

Ondrej Kase has a 2.31 points per 60 at 5v5 his last two seasons. Carolina has been an expected goals monster the past few years. If they keep adding finishing talent and get average or better goaltending the Eastern Conference Finals trip they made last year is going to become a regular thing. Not good news for a fading Penguins team.

Thanks for reading!
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