Skip to content

Johnston will enter camp looking for wingers for Malkin

Aug 26, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

Evgeni Malkin Getty Images

Evgeni Malkin meshed well with James Neal and Jussi Jokinen last season, but neither of his wingers are returning to Pittsburgh for 2014-15. As a result, one of Mike Johnston’s first tasks as Pittsburgh’s new bench boss will be remaking the second line.

Rather than focus on three-forward units, Johnston is more interested in finding at least one winger that each center can count on playing with regularly and then change up the third player as the situation warrants. The idea is that it will provide each line with a degree of stability without completely sacrificing flexibility. So for example, Johnston likes the way Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby play together, so they’re projected to typically make up two-thirds of the first line.

Before his 2013-14 campaign was cut short due to a knee injury, Pascal Dupuis was typically the third man on that top unit, but that might not be the case under Johnston.

“(Dupuis) can play anywhere in the lineup,” Johnston told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He certainly has played well with Sid before. Can he play well with (Malkin)? That’s what we’ve got to see.”

Patric Hornqvist, who was acquired from Nashville in the Neal trade, is another serious contender to be Malkin’s partner.

Although neither is likely to start the season as Malkin’s full-time linemate, 22-year-old Beau Bennett and 2014 first round draft pick Kasperi Kapanen will also be watched closely during training camp to see where — and in Kapanen’s case if — they might fit in.

Regardless of who Johnston picks, the bigger question regarding Malkin is his health. He was limited to 60 games last season and has a lengthy history of injuries. If he stays healthy, he’ll likely be effective with almost any wingers, but if he keeps ending up on the sidelines then obviously it won’t matter who he’s been paired with.

Latest Posts
  1. Kings ink prospect Sharipzyanov to entry-level contract

    Aug 27, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Damir Sharipzyanov Getty Images

    The defenseman had 34 points in 66 OHL games last season.

  2. Sabres interested in luring Franson

    Aug 27, 2015, 8:58 PM EDT

    Cody Franson Getty Images

    He might end up with a two-year deal.

  3. Ladd wants to re-sign before season starts

    Aug 27, 2015, 8:21 PM EDT

    Andrew Ladd Getty Images

    He’s entering the final season of his five-year, $22 million deal.

  4. AHL unveils schedule with California teams playing fewer games

    Aug 27, 2015, 6:48 PM EDT

    061315 comets mdd AP

    Playoff seeding will be determined by points percentage.

  5. Under pressure: Mike Johnston

    Aug 27, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT

    Mike Johnston Getty Images

    The Penguins are a win now team coming off of a quick first round exit.

  6. Pittsburgh’s biggest question: Is the defense good enough?

    Aug 27, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT

    St. Louis Blues v Pittsburgh Penguins Getty Images

    “I’m fully aware that at some point in time we may have to address that position.”

  7. Marty favor? Blues bringing Gomez to camp on PTO

    Aug 27, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT

    New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    The two have a bit of a history, as you may recall…

  8. Poll: Will Kessel score 40?

    Aug 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    The Toronto Maple hold their post season media availibility and team President Brendan Shanahan holds a press conference to answer questions Getty Images

    It’s a benchmark he’s never hit before.

  9. Looking to make the leap: Derrick Pouliot

    Aug 27, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins Getty Images

    The 21-year-old looks like he’ll be counted upon heavily.

  10. Mike Richards charged with possession of controlled substance

    Aug 27, 2015, 9:48 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers Getty Images

    For a border incident that occurred in mid-June.

  11. It’s Pittsburgh Penguins Day at PHT

    Aug 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Sidney Crosby AP

    A first round exit has led to a busy summer.

  12. Devils’ continue summer of change with more personnel moves

    Aug 26, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT

    Patrick Rissmiller Getty Images

    Development coach Patrick Rissmiller is among New Jersey’s latest additions.

  13. Erik Karlsson has an interesting take on (not) training

    Aug 26, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT

    Erik Karlsson AP

    His conditioning comes on the ice, not in the weight room.

  14. Sabres reach their season tickets cap with 96 percent renewal rate

    Aug 26, 2015, 6:40 PM EDT

    Jack Eichel Getty Images

    Two terrible seasons didn’t dissuade fans expecting brighter days ahead.

  15. Philadelphia Flyers ’15-16 Outlook

    Aug 26, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT

    Ottawa Senators v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Philadelphia has a great core, but does it have the depth?

  16. Poll: Are the Flyers better off losing (a lot)?

    Aug 26, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Dave Hakstol AP

    Tanking isn’t likely, yet may it be wise?

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1423)
  2. P. Kane (1289)
  3. S. Matthias (1180)
  4. M. Zuccarello (1106)
  5. D. Carcillo (1092)