We are heading into the 2017-18 NHL season, and there are many things to look forward to about the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a lot of excitement surrounding them. Coming off back-to-back Stanley Cup victories and the chance at a three-peat brings a lot of eyes their way this season.
There are always surprises however and things don’t always go as planned, in good ways and bad. Here are a few of my personal bold predictions for this upcoming season.
Keep in mind these are simply predictions that I personally have a hunch may happen. That’s not to say it will happen.
1) Jake Guentzel will score at least 30 goals
We’ve already seen what he’s capable of. Jake Guentzel scored 16 goals in 40 games last season. If he plays his first full season this year, I don’t think 30 goals is that difficult to achieve.
He has shown he has the skill and talent to excel in this league. With his linemates of Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary especially, he can very well surpass 30 goals even.
2) Sidney Crosby will win the Hart Trophy
Connor McDavid took it home last season and Sidney Crosby finished second. But I think this year will be the year that Crosby retakes his throne.
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I feel like Crosby is due for an incredible season. Last season’s 44 goals were impressive, but I think he can outdo his performance. He’s in his prime right now and there”s no slowing him down.
3) Antti Niemi will be bought out
I know I wrote so highly about the Niemi signing before and how he could end up being a great backup goaltender for us. But I’ve got to have a negative bold prediction in here as well and I just have a feeling he still might fail.
Niemi’s career has been trending downwards. Yes, his role as backup takes a lot of pressure off his back, but I just think he still won’t be able to compete to the level that we want. I feel like the Penguins will begin to look for other options in a few months and as soon as they find one, he may be bought out. Just a hunch though.
4) Matt Murray will be a Vezina finalist
Matt Murray is an elite goaltender. We all know this. He is only 23 years old and he has two Stanley Cups as a rookie. His performance last year was great, and you know he has big things coming for him.
Marc-Andre Fleury used to roll with him as the team’s second starting goaltender. Well now Fleury is out of the picture and Murray will finally be the only starter on the team. With these starts, I think he will truly excel and play like one of the best goaltenders in the league.
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Now I think he will be a finalist. I’m not going to say winner because I don’t feel that strongly about his play yet. However in a few years, with more development and experience, I think Murray will take home a couple of Vezina trophies. We’ll just have to wait and see.