Excellent drafting, player development and asset management are now the key elements to winning a Stanley Cup.
Admittedly being able to draft a generational talent like Sidney Crosby help’s matters along, but simply having one superstar doesn’t equate to a championship – as Washington has found to their cost.
It’s Pittsburgh organisational depth and the fantastic job their affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is doing, that is making the difference.
Just this season alone there have been contributions from WBS regulars including Jake Guentzel, Chad Ruhwedel, Carter Rowney, Cameron Gaunce, Josh Archibald, Tom Sestito, David Warsofsky, Dominik Simon, Derrick Pouliot, Oskar Sundqvist, Kevin Porter and Jean-Sebastien Dea.
Seven of those were picked up as free agent signings and the remainder include a first round selection, two thirds, a fifth and a sixth – showing that Pittsburgh can develop their own as well as scouting for free talent to develop.
Other recent graduates including the dynamic Conor Sheary (NCAA free agent), Bryan Rust (3rd), Brian Dumoulin (acquired in trade), Tom Kuhnhackl (4th) and Matt Murray of course.
Goaltender’s are like voodoo to many organisations but picked up in the third round, Murray was nothing short of remarkable as a rookie in the AHL and has continued on in a similar vein for Pittsburgh.
With Casey DeSmith and more so Tristan Jarrry showing promise in the American league thus far, it could be a pipeline that helps Pittsburgh keep winning in the near future.
Last but not least is head coach, Mike Sullivan, proving it’s not just player’s who flourish in the Pens system.
Sullivan spent part of the 2015-16 season guiding Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before being promoted to Pittsburgh, and is now the first head coach since the great Toe Blake in 1956 and 1957 to guide a team to Stanley Cups in his first two years behind an NHL bench.