Aug 26, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
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.
Aug 27, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
The defenseman had 34 points in 66 OHL games last season.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:58 PM EDT
He might end up with a two-year deal.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:21 PM EDT
He’s entering the final season of his five-year, $22 million deal.
Aug 27, 2015, 6:48 PM EDT
Playoff seeding will be determined by points percentage.
Aug 27, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT
It could prove to be a bargain deal.
Aug 27, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT
The Penguins are a win now team coming off of a quick first round exit.
Aug 27, 2015, 2:55 PM EDT
Can they stay healthy?
Aug 27, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT
“I’m fully aware that at some point in time we may have to address that position.”
Aug 27, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
At which time he’ll be reevaluated.
Aug 27, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT
The two have a bit of a history, as you may recall…
Aug 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
It’s a benchmark he’s never hit before.
Aug 27, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT
The 21-year-old looks like he’ll be counted upon heavily.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:48 AM EDT
For a border incident that occurred in mid-June.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
A first round exit has led to a busy summer.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Thursday’s collection of links.
Aug 26, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT
Development coach Patrick Rissmiller is among New Jersey’s latest additions.
Aug 26, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT
His conditioning comes on the ice, not in the weight room.
Aug 26, 2015, 6:40 PM EDT
Two terrible seasons didn’t dissuade fans expecting brighter days ahead.
Aug 26, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT
Philadelphia has a great core, but does it have the depth?
Aug 26, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Tanking isn’t likely, yet may it be wise?
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