The biggest fish that the Penguins caught on the free-agent market was defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. The German born 30-year-old brings a whole pack of skills to the team. His finest quality might be the quarterback-like play he demonstrates from the blue line on the man advantage. Ehrhoff gives the Penguins the chance to line up with two defensemen on the first power play unit, which could avoid some unnecessary scoring for the opposite team (something that has been an issue with the usual four-forward formation). Moreover, Ehrhoff brings leadership to a group of young defensemen, can log big minutes, and cover the shutdown-role vacancy left by Brooks Orpik.
Another big move the Penguins made during the off-season was the trade that sent James Neal to Nashville in exchange for wingers Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. The trade followed the team’s new approach set out by co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle this July, adding more grit and character to the lineup. Is also followed the new model of using analytics to help determine which players that are the best fit for the club. The Penguins badly needed to add some post-season scoring and net-front scoring, something Hornqvist and Spaling are meant to bring to the table.
Come May-July, Penguins’ fans will give their final verdict of how the new leadership with Jim Rutherford and Mike Johnston steered the team.