EXPERIENCE THE EVOLUTION OF PENGUINS HOCKEY THIS SEASON
Wednesday, 07.26.2006 / 12:00 AM ET / News
As the NHL morphs into a game of speed and skill, perhaps no other team is better poised for success than the Penguins. With a five-year draft history that has produced budding superstars Colby Armstrong, Ryan Whitney, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin and teen megastar Sidney Crosby - among others - a new era is quickly unfolding in Pittsburgh. Experience the Evolution. With Crosby leading the way, these talented young players laid a solid foundation in 2005-06. The first-overall draft pick in 2005, Crosby took the league by storm as an 18-year-old in 2005-06 and changed the NHL record books forever. He thrived in the "new" NHL and delivered one of the best rookie seasons in league history when he became the NHL's youngest player to reach the 100-point mark at the age of 18 years, 253 days when he finished his season with 102 points (39+63) in 81 games. Also, he surpassed Mario Lemieux's Penguins rookie record of 100 points, established by No. 66 in 1984-85. Along the way, Crosby captivated fans around the world. His impact was felt especially in Pittsburgh as the Penguins led the NHL in increased attendance for 2005-06. Armstrong, the Penguins' first pick in 2001, emerged as a talented goal-scorer and a vicious hard worker. He thrived once he was put on Crosby's right wing. Armstrong tallied 40 points (16+24) in 47 games for the Penguins. Crosby set up nine of Armstrong's 16 goals, while eight of Armstrong's 24 assists were on Crosby tallies. Armstrong closed the season with points in four-straight games (3+5). Whitney materialized as an exciting young defenseman at the NHL level. The Penguins' first pick in 2002 (fifth overall) closed his rookie campaign with a five-game points streak (2+5). The hulking blueliner collected 38 points (6+32) in 68 NHL games and left Pens excited for his sophomore campaign. Fleury, the 2003 first-overall pick, showed flashes of brilliance in goal for the Penguins. He backstopped Pittsburgh to 13 of its 22 wins in 2005-06. He finished with a 3.25 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage. He had one shutout on the year as well and captivated fans with his quick reflexes and acrobatic saves. The Penguins could add another impressive young talent to their roster with the arrival of Evgeni Malkin from Russia. The 2004 second-overall pick could be in a Penguins uniform in the fall. Already considered the best NHL prospect in the world before his 20th birthday, Malkin shined in the Russian Super League in 2005-06. In addition, his dominating play on the international level for Russia, particularly at the Winter Olympics, has the hockey world eagerly awaiting his arrival on NHL ice. The groundwork is laid. The future looks bright. Now is the time to Experience the Evolution.