Now that Ray Shero has made his big move and James Neal and Matt Niskanen are both expected to play tonight against the Sharks, a lot of people are wondering what will happen next.
This good piece from The Sporting News gives us an idea:
The sting of losing Goligoski will disappear when the talented 6-2 Neal walks through the dressing room door. It will become a distant memory when he inevitably starts scoring the goals this team desperately needs.
It was the right trade for Shero to make. Neal's energy and enthusiasm over the possibility of becoming Crosby's winger for the next decade will provide a boost.
"Very excited," Neal wrote in a text to Sporting News on Tuesday morning. "Can't wait to get going."
Shero indicated he isn't done shopping for help. There was some debate about what the Penguins would do at the deadline given the uncertain status of their best players.
That debate is gone. Shero is aggressively trying to improve this team and hasn't ruled out another deal. The Penguins could probably get a skilled forward like Alex Kovalev without giving up much in return.
Even with the injuries, the expectations haven't changed in Pittsburgh. It's a close, resilient group that would love to get its captain back. But they don't feel success necessarily depends on it.
"People don't talk about us being favorites, but we believe in this team. We know what we can do. Hopefully we get some guys back and start playing our hockey, we're a confident group," defenseman Zbynek Michalek said. "We still have one goal and that's winning the Stanley Cup."
That goal hasn't changed. Crosby or not.
What will the Pens do? A quick look at CapGeek shows us that the Pens can take on a max cap hit of $3,776,952 at this point. However, that number increases as the season goes on, players get healthier, and some bodies return to WBS. Kovalev comes with a $5 million cap hit.
So what will the Pens do? It looks like Shero is gearing up for another playoff run, despite the injuries.