Skip to content

Johnston will enter camp looking for wingers for Malkin

Aug 26, 2014, 8:30 PM EST

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. Report: NHL won’t hold hearing for Bartkowski hit

    Dec 22, 2014, 8:54 AM EST

    Matt Bartkowski, Marcus Foligno, Brian Gionta AP

    Brian Gionta was injured as a result of the blow.

  2. Flyers rally as Zepp wins his career debut at 33 years old

    Dec 22, 2014, 12:16 AM EST

    Philadelphia Flyers v Winnipeg Jets Getty Images

    He’s the oldest goalie to win his debut since Hugh Lehman in 1926.

  3. Hawks’ Raanta posts 31-save shutout over Leafs

    Dec 21, 2014, 10:07 PM EST

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Chicago Blackhawks Getty Images

    Toronto has lost three straight games.

  4. Oilers squander three-goal lead, lose 18th time in 19 games

    Dec 21, 2014, 9:42 PM EST

    Ben Scrivens AP

    Will this be the worst season Edmonton has ever had?

  5. Pickard makes one last bid to stay, beats Wings in nine-round SO

    Dec 21, 2014, 9:09 PM EST

    Calvin Pickard, Justin Abdelkader AP

    Varlamov is expected to be back on Tuesday.

  6. Oilers chase Lehtonen with three unanswered goals

    Dec 21, 2014, 7:39 PM EST

    Arcobello goal

    The Stars swapping goaltenders didn’t slow Edmonton.

  7. Brad Richards out with upper-body injury

    Dec 21, 2014, 6:48 PM EST

    Brad Richards Getty Images

    He had been playing with Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg.

  8. Jordan Staal (leg) might return before New Years Eve

    Dec 21, 2014, 5:56 PM EST

    Jordan Staal Getty Images

    The Hurricanes are getting close to full strength.

  9. Roy: 95 percent chance Varlamov will return Tuesday

    Dec 21, 2014, 5:00 PM EST

    DENVER, CO - APRIL 03: Goalie Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche makes a glove save against the New York Rangers at Pepsi Center on April 3, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Rangers 3-2 in an overtime shootout. Getty Images

    Will Calvin Pickard be sent to the minors once Varlamov is healthy?

  10. Hansen misses Canucks’ practice Sunday

    Dec 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    Jannik Hansen Getty Images

    Collapsed on the team’s bench Saturday night.

  11. Report: Eakins could head back to Toronto

    Dec 21, 2014, 2:15 PM EST

    Edmonton Oilers' head coach Dallas Eakins, center, stands on the bench above David Perron, from left to right, Sam Gagner and Ryan Jones during third period NHL hockey action in Vancouver, British Columbia, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) AP

    Was fired by the Oilers Dec. 15.

  12. Zepp to make NHL debut in Flyers’ net Sunday

    Dec 21, 2014, 1:30 PM EST

    Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

    The 33-year-old was recalled Friday.

  13. Could Malkin be the next player to be fined for diving?

    Dec 21, 2014, 12:45 PM EST

    Evgeni Malkin AP

    The Penguins forward was penalized twice for embellishment on Saturday.

  14. Sabres’ recall Pysyk and Schaller from AHL

    Dec 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

    Tampa Bay Lightning v Buffalo Sabres Tampa Bay Lightning v Buffalo Sabres

    Torrey Mitchell and Tyson Strachan have been placed on IR

  15. Former Pens Niskanen and Orpik react to Bylsma’s firing

    Dec 21, 2014, 11:15 AM EST

    Dan Bylsma AP

    They’re not impressed with how Bylsma and his staff were treated.

Featured video

More than a Stanley Cup hangover?
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (3591)
  2. B. Bishop (3570)
  3. C. Perry (2306)
  4. C. Crawford (2105)
  5. B. Elliott (2102)
  1. D. Krejci (1966)
  2. C. Kunitz (1948)
  3. J. Schwartz (1863)
  4. O. Palat (1664)
  5. T. Oshie (1564)