LAST SEASON: 43-27-12, 98 points. Finished fourth in Metropolitan Division. Lost to New York Rangers in Eastern Conference semifinals.
COACH: Mike Johnston (second season).
PLAYER TO WATCH: Phil Kessel. The Penguins brought in the three-time All Star from the Maple Leafs to give franchise cornerstones Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin some much-needed support. The 28-year-old is hoping a fresh start away from the crucible in Toronto will help him put up the kind of numbers he only occasionally flirted with during his six seasons in Canada.
OUTLOOK: Injuries and an offense that struggled to score goals - a stunning development for a team with two of the game's biggest stars - led to Pittsburgh's quiet five-game loss to the Rangers in the first round last spring. General manager Jim Rutherford provided needed depth by adding Eric Fehr, Matt Cullen and young Russian Sergei Plotnikov to give the bottom six some punch. If Kessel can develop chemistry with either Malkin or Crosby and the defense led by Kris Letang keeps the crease in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury clear, the Penguins will be in the postseason for a 10th straight year. Another quick exit, however, could lead to widespread changes.