No need for an introduction this time around. This week, Chris asked;
"With the injuries to Gonchar and Whitney.... What should the Penguins do about their blueline?"
Well, let's start by pointing out my immediate pessimism for the Penguins this year. Not only have they decreased offensively, but with the loss of Gonchar and Whitney, they are now a shadow of their Conference Championship team from last year.
Gonchar is without question a massive loss for Pittsburgh on the blueline. Their best veteran defender, Gonchar has been consistently their go to guy on the point, and filling in his spot is next to impossible without either making a trade or hitting the free agency market. But you consider who is next in line on the depth chart, and you realize that Whitney was the 'next in line' in regards to defensive talent.
Not only does this mean their top two defensive players are out of the lineup, they have no real leadership on the back end. Regardless of how deep any team is, the need for top caliber players is never discounted. Shero seems to think the other defensive players can step up (like young Letang, who will really need to impress this year) and fill in where their injured players are out. Having said that, even if they do manage to stand up and play lights out, they will definitely be in a major hard place if any of them get even slightly injured.
So what does Pittsburgh do? They can't find what they need on the free agent market, and they don't really have any extra wiggle room up front (considering the prospects they gave up for Hossa, and the multiple losses over the summer). It looks like they are going to have to either trade a well known offensive player, or grit their teeth and hope that the second half of the season bodes better than the first likely will.
Thanks for the question Chris.. I really think there are people out there who reasonably think the Pens will make the playoffs, and while I do not think they are insane, it will sure be an uphill battle for the boys in Pittsburgh.