Sidney Crosby praised Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford for the work he's done this offseason, including a blockbuster trade that brought in wing Phil Kessel.
"It's difficult. It's not easy to make moves," Crosby told the Penguins website, speaking from his hockey camp in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. "He's found a way to make our team better and improve our team. As players, you want to respond. So I think it's up to us to come to camp ready and make sure we get a good start and start things on the right foot. But like last year, with a little bit of change, you really have to focus on that and be aware of it. It's not easy just to bring in new guys and have everything be smooth. So we'll all be together in that, whether it's players or coaching staff, and we'll find a way to make sure we're ready for Game 1."
After a disappointing end to the 2014-15 season in which the Penguins clinched a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season and lost a five-game series against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round, the Penguins acquired Kessel, a five-time 30-goal scorer from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"I think that we've got a ton of depth and [Kessel] just adds to that," Crosby said. "We all know he can score. He's got great speed and hopefully that's something where when they're trying to cover one guy, someone else is going to be open. And I think with the depth that we have, it shouldn't be easy to match up against us. So whatever the line combinations are, whoever ends up playing together, we're going to have some really good balance there and he's going to add a lot to that."
The depth Crosby was referring to includes six other players besides Kessel who scored at least 10 goals last season: Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each had 28. Patric Hornqvist (25), Chris Kunitz (17), David Perron (16) and Kris Letang (11) were the others.
Among their other moves, the Penguins signed forward Eric Fehr and traded for Nick Bonino. They agreed to terms Thursday with veteran center Matt Cullen.
Crosby said he hasn't spoken to any of his new teammates yet but is looking forward to meeting them at training camp.
"It's just something that you have to deal with now in the NHL; there's always kind of the changes in the roster," Crosby said. "It's never easy to see guys leave, but at the same time, the energy that the new guys bring is really important too. Everyone who comes is always excited to come to Pittsburgh. They know they're going to have a chance to win, and it's up to us as a group to come together and give ourselves that opportunity."