Here’s a breakdown of what Penguins fans can look forward to during the summer months before the 2015-16 season begins.
Pens franchise centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are two of the best players in the world, and they are representing their countries on that international stage. Both players are participating in the 2015 IIHF World Championship, which will be hosted by the Czech Republic in the cities of Prague and Ostrava from May 1-17.
Crosby, who was named captain of Team Canada on Thursday, will be making his second career appearance at the tournament. His first came after his rookie season back in 2006, where he finished with eight goals and 16 points in nine games and was named the tournament’s Top Forward as Canada finished fourth – losing to Finland in the bronze medal game.
If Crosby is able to lead his team to a gold medal this year, that would make him a member of the coveted Triple Gold club as he won Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014 and the Stanley Cup in 2009.
Meanwhile, this will be Malkin’s sixth World Championship. He won gold medals with Team Russia in his last two appearances in 2014 and 2012. He was incredible three years ago, finishing with 19 points in 10 games – which established a new Team Russia scoring record. He earned tournament MVP and Top Forward honors as Russia won it all.
However, it’s worth noting that Malkin may not appear in all of Russia’s games as he was dealing with an ankle injury at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs and isn’t at 100 percent.
“He told me (Monday) he wasn’t sure he’d play all the games, but he’s committed to his country," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. "He didn’t want to say no to them. So he will go over there and I think he’ll kind of play it by ear. But I would suspect he’ll play some games, (just) not at 100 percent."
All of Canada's games will be broadcast on TSN. The network's full schedule is here
. Russia will have a few of their games shown on that channel as well, while their matchup with Team USA on May 4 will be broadcast on NBCSN. We plan to have updates posted here
throughout the tournament. Full tournament details are at www.iihfworlds2015.com
Crosby and Malkin's schedules are below in graphic form, courtesy of the Pens PR department...
Pittsburgh’s top minor-league affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, swept Syracuse in their best-of-five Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with a 5-2 win on Wednesday.
WBS features a lot of exciting young prospects, and general manager Jim Rutherford said a number of them will have a real chance to play in Pittsburgh next season.
The Pens re-assigned four players to WBS after their season ended – Derrick Pouliot, Taylor Chorney, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Wilson – and they, along with players like Jayson Megna, Bryan Rust and Scott Harrington and 2014 first-round pick Kasperi Kapanen and 2012 third-round pick Oskar Sundqvist, who both joined the team after their respective seasons in Europe were over, are all players to watch during WBS’ run.
And of course, so is stud goaltender Matt Murray, who has been absolutely tearing up the AHL in his rookie season. His honors so far include being named the AHL’s outstanding rookie, the AHL’s top goaltender and a member of the AHL All-Rookie Team and First All-Star Team.
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will be attending this year’s NHL Awards, which will be held on Wednesday, June 24 in Las Vegas. He is one of three finalists, along with Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk and Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond, for the 2015 Bill Masterton Trophy, which is given to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”
Letang was selected as the Penguins’ Masterton nominee by the local media in back-to-back seasons for his incredible return from a stroke that he suffered in January 2014.
Letang, 28, set career highs in goals (11-tied), assists (43) and points (54) in 2014-15. His .78 points-per-game ranked fourth among all league defensemen and was only behind Erik Karlsson’s .80. Letang not only made a full, healthy recovery following the stroke. He enjoyed his best personal season and a Norris Trophy (best NHL defensemen) caliber year in 2014-15.
After three years on the East Coast (Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Philadelphia), the 2015 NHL Draft is moving south. It will be hosted at the BB&T Center – home of the Panthers – in Sunrise, Florida.
The first round is scheduled for Friday, June 26 and rounds 2-7 will be held on Saturday, June 27. As of now, the Penguins do not have a first-round pick as it was sent to Edmonton along with Rob Klinkhammer in exchange for David Perron on Jan. 2. The order of selection for the first round is as follows:
a) The first 14 selections, as determined by a Draft Drawing – where the 14 teams that did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs (or clubs that acquired those teams’ first-round draft picks) participate to determine their order.
b) Clubs eliminated in the first two rounds of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, regular-season division winners excluded (in inverse order of points).
c) Regular-season division-winning clubs eliminated in the first two rounds of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs (in inverse order of points).
d) Clubs eliminated in the 2015 Conference Finals (in inverse order of points).
e) Stanley Cup finalist.
f) Stanley Cup champion.
Once 12:00 p.m. ET hits on Wednesday, July 1, an unrestricted free agent is free to negotiate and sign a contract with any team. The Penguins have eight NHL players that are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents if they do not re-sign with the team by that date: Craig Adams, Blake Comeau, Steve Downie, Christian Ehrhoff, Thomas Greiss, Maxim Lapierre, Paul Martin and Daniel Winnik.
Other players within the organization scheduled to be unrestricted free agents at that time are Taylor Chorney, Andrew Ebbett, Nick Drazenovic and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond.
Any player whose contract has expired can declare himself an unrestricted free agent if he is at least 27 years old and has accrued four seasons as an NHL player, or has accrued at least seven years of service as an NHL player. Beau Bennett, Ian Cole, Brian Dumoulin, Jayson Megna, Adam Payerl, Nick D’Agostino, Dominik Uher, Reid McNeill, Eric Hartzell and Bobby Farnham are the organization’s restricted free agents since they are no longer considered entry-level, but do not qualify as an unrestricted free agent.
The Penguins must extend a qualifying offer to any of these players in order to retain their negotiating rights. If a qualifying offer is made and the player rejects it, he or the team can file for salary arbitration to settle any contract disputes. The timetable for that is below.
NOTE: The Penguins have four NHL players whose contracts will expire at the end of next season. Ben Lovejoy, David Perron, Nick Spaling and Brandon Sutter could all become unrestricted free agents if they don’t re-sign by that time. The Penguins can sign any player with one calendar year remaining on their contract starting July 1, so all four guys would be eligible for that.
* DEADLINE FOR PLAYER-ELECTED SALARY ARBITRATION NOTIFICATION: SUNDAY, JULY 5 (5 P.M. ET)
* DEADLINE FOR CLUB-ELECTED SALARY ARBITRATION NOTIFICATION: MONDAY, JULY 6 (5 P.M. ET)
* SALARY ARBITRATION HEARINGS HELD: MONDAY, JULY 20 – TUESDAY, AUGUST 4
* DEADLINE FOR SALARY ARBITRATION HEARINGS TO BE RENDERED: THURSDAY, AUGUST 6
Penguins prospects will have the opportunity to spend a few days in Pittsburgh in July learning what it means to represent the organization during this year’s development camp.
It’s a chance for the franchise's prospects and recent draft picks to learn all of the on- and off-ice aspects that come with being a professional hockey player in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, in a more relaxed atmosphere than training camp – though they will certainly be leaving an impression on the staff while there.
It is also a chance for the Penguins staff to see the organization’s prospects all together, teach them the habits and mindset they want their players to have and get an idea of where they’re at in their strength and conditioning.
Medical and fitness testing will take place at the beginning of camp at CONSOL Energy Center. The prospects will then take part in on-ice practice and scrimmage sessions as well as workouts, meetings and seminars. They will also have team-bonding experiences – in the past, those have included bowling, paintball and group dinners.
The schedule and details will be released at a later date.
This season the Penguins will be moving from the Iceoplex at Southpointe to their brand-new practice and training facility in Cranberry, the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex – which will open in August 2015.
The complex, which will be the first of its kind, won’t just be the Penguins’ practice home – it will be a community hockey and sports development and the first medical facility in the country to focus specifically on hockey-related training, rehab and injury prevention.
It will feature two NHL ice sheets, 16 locker rooms, and 50,000 square feet of a world-class medical center. There also will be a physical therapy gym overlooking the Penguins’ practice rink.
The complex will host the Penguins Elite youth hockey program and youth camps and clinics, as well as high school and amateur games. It also will be available for community events.
Former Penguin Gary Roberts will oversee the philosophy and off-ice training regimen at the Sports Performance Center, which will focus on hockey but encompass athletes of every sport.
When NHL commissioner Gary Bettman took a tour of the site in April, he came away feeling he’d glimpsed the future of hockey training.
“Absolutely incredible,” Bettman said. “I don’t think there’s a facility like this in the world that has the combination of medical treatment, diagnosis, rehab, training, fitness and the ice rinks themselves. And to have it staffed by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center physicians, and to have Gary Roberts here in terms of athlete training – this is going to be a revolutionary place.”
The Penguins will be participating in the 2015 Rookie Tournament at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario from Sept. 11-13.
In addition to practices and meetings, the Penguins prospects will partake in three exhibition games at Budweiser Gardens against three rookie teams from Canada: the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pittsburgh’s rookie tournament schedule is as follows…
Friday, Sept. 11: 4 p.m. vs. Montreal
Saturday, Sept. 12: 4 p.m. vs. Ottawa
Sunday, Sept. 13: 7:35 p.m. vs. Toronto
It’s a chance for the prospects to continue working on what they learned two months earlier at Penguins development camp, and one final opportunity for them to leave an impression on the staff before reporting to NHL training camp.
The Penguins will get back to business after a long summer when they return to Pittsburgh in September to report to training camp. The competition for spots on the 2015-16 opening-night roster should be especially fierce, as Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said in his season-ending media conference that he didn’t want to lock into a lot of one-way contracts going into training camp so that it blocks the hungry young prospects out.
Last season, the Penguins invited 57 players – 34 forwards, 17 defensemen and six goaltenders – and made cuts in bunches as training camp moved along. In addition to practices – some of which will be open to the public – the Penguins will play a number of preseason games. The full training camp schedule will be announced at a later date.