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Changes ahead for key Cup contenders

Updated: June 26, 2012, 10:44 AM ET
By Craig Custance

The teams knocked out in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs were a who's who of preseason Stanley Cup favorites. When the dust settled, the Penguins, Red Wings, Sharks, Blackhawks, Bruins and Canucks were all heading home for the summer much earlier than anyone expected.

Boston gets a pass since the season after a Stanley Cup is one of the most challenging transitions in hockey. But the rest face a summer of decision-making in which front offices have to determine whether the first-round exit was an aberration or a sign it's time for dramatic change. At least one of those teams has started down the road to a makeover. Here's a look at where a few of the perceived perennial Cup contenders stand as free agency draws closer:

Pittsburgh Penguins

When the season ended, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma would have been content giving it another run with that group, despite another disappointing playoff exit.

"We didn't feel we needed dramatic change," Bylsma said the day after Jordan Staal was dealt. "We felt like we had a good team. We felt like we had a team that could play and win a Stanley Cup. We didn't. We got disappointed in the first round. Those are difficult things to deal with."

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