The Pittsburgh Penguins missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2023 for the first time in 16 years. This is in spite of incredible performances from aging stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. With both players still playing at elite levels, it was hard for the team to envision the need for a rebuild.

So, they went all in on making the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2024. They spent big in NHL Free Agency, bringing in multiple new faces to the squad. However, their biggest move came through trade. The Penguins, led by new general manager Kyle Dubas, acquired star defenseman Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks.

Karlsson had a historic season in 2023 with the lowly Sharks. The future Hall of Famer scored 101 points and won the Norris Trophy as the league's best blueliner. However, he could not help Crosby, Malkin, and the Penguins make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2024.

The Penguins missed the postseason after selling at the NHL Trade Deadline. They had a chance in the final days of the season. But for the most part, they were all out of sorts during the regular season. Now, their eyes turn to NHL Free Agency once again as they look to make the postseason in 2025. With this in mind, here are two moves the team can make to improve their odds for next year.

Penguins need scoring depth

Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) looks on against the Florida Panthers during the second period n game two of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amerant Bank Arena.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

One major area of improvement for the Penguins is their scoring depth. Pittsburgh received big-time performances from the likes of Crosby, Karlsson, and Malkin in 2023-24. But beyond that, the team's offense was certainly lacking. In fact, their fifth-highest point scorer was Jake Guentzel. Guentzel was traded at the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Thankfully, the Penguins can improve their scoring depth in NHL Free Agency. There are a number of unrestricted free agents for Pittsburgh to look at this summer. For example, they could sign Anthony Duclair. Duclair split the season between the Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning. And he scored 24 goals and 42 points in 2023-24.

Another option is Boston Bruins UFA Jake DeBrusk. The veteran winger appears likely to leave Boston this summer. He led the Bruins in postseason points with 11. In the regular season, he scored 19 goals and 40 points. The Edmonton native has recorded 40+ points in five of his seven seasons in the NHL.

These are just two potential options for the Penguins. The point is that Pittsburgh cannot continue to rely solely on Crosby, Malkin, and Karlsson. They have to put players around them who can carry some of the offensive burden if they wish to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2025.

Pittsburgh could bolster goaltending

The Penguins dished out a big contract to goalie Tristan Jarry in NHL Free Agency last summer. However, things didn't necessarily work out in 2023-24. Jarry's save percentage dropped from .909 to .903 this past season. And the last 13 games of the season all went to backup Alex Nedeljkovic.

Pittsburgh seems to have a lack of faith in Jarry these days. To be fair, the Surrey, British Columbia native was one of the better options on the goalie market last summer. This year, though, upgrades are there to be had. If the Penguins are willing to get creative, they could certainly look to bolster their standing in the crease.

If they want to swing big, Nashville Predators star Juuse Saros is a potential trade target. Saros helped the Predators make the Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to a dominant second half of the season. Furthermore, the Finnish netminder nearly helped Nashville defeat the Vancouver Canucks in round one.

A more realistic option may be Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark. Ullmark is not a UFA until 2025 but is likely to be traded this summer. The Bruins have Jeremy Swayman ready to become the full-time starter. If Pittsburgh can trade Jarry, perhaps they can pick up Ullmark as his replacement.

In any event, the Penguins should try to bolster their goaltending this summer. Keeping the puck out of the net is going to be crucial for their playoff push next season. It'd certainly be worth it to find a goaltender they can trust if they no longer have faith in Jarry after this past campaign.