Summer Skate: Penguins

Big season may lie ahead for Pittsburgh's uber-talented center

Updated: August 27, 2013, 11:46 AM ET
By Ryan Schwepfinger and Corey Pronman |
Hockey Prospectus

PenguinsAP Photo/Gene J. PuskarThe best may be yet to come for Evgeni Malkin in 2013-14.

Using the VUKOTA projection system of Hockey Prospectus, Insider is taking the temperature of key players on every NHL team, continuing with the Pittsburgh Penguins. For a detailed explanation of Prospectus' proprietary GVT value metric, read more here.

Note: Due to the lockout, GVT scores for the 2013 season are prorated from 48 to 82 games.

Summer Skate: Pittsburgh Penguins

Was 2009 an exception? Pittsburgh fans are surely asking themselves this question, as their beloved team faltered in the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Bruins, scoring just two goals in a four-game sweep by Boston. Most alarmingly, offense was thought to be the only thing the Pens had going for it entering the series, as a cavalcade of Marc-Andre Fleury errors for the second straight postseason planted thoughts of a buyout in some fans' minds (and gave the team a goalie battle to decide in camp between Fleury and Tomas Vokoun).

The electric duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin remain this team's cornerstones, but two players cannot win a Cup by themselves, and the Penguins need to ensure the right supporting cast is in place (particularly in goal) if they are to repeat the 2009 success that now seems so, so long ago.

Trending up: F Evgeni Malkin
Last season: 11.8 GVT | VUKOTA projection: 15.1


To read the full story about the Penguins' summer projections, plus Insider's complete NHL coverage, sign up for ESPN Insider.

Corey Pronman is ESPN's NHL Draft and Prospects analyst. He provides analysis on the top draft-eligible players, prospects drafted by NHL teams and all other relevant prospect information. He lives in New York.