The Pittsburgh Penguins summer has brought significant turnover and General Manager Jim Rutherford is not done yet. The Penguins are over the salary cap and RFA defenseman Marcus Pettersson is still on the beach without a contract which means even more changes will likely beset the Penguins before the season opener on Oct. 4.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now has conducted film sessions for the Penguins new players, Brandon Tanev and Alex Galchenyuk. While both players are in their mid-20s, the film study verdict was mixed.
PHN has also been in contact with sources since the video sessions, and have been told a few tidbits about the Penguins thinking. Some of the conventional wisdom on social media and in the sports media could be counter to the Penguins thinking. Notably, sources said the Penguins could begin the season with Galchenyuk beside Sidney Crosby instead of Evgeni Malkin.
So, with a little inside dirt, some guesswork and our own evaluations of the players, chemistry, and potential, here are the updated Pittsburgh Penguins line combination projections.
Feel free to argue in the comments section.
Guentzel — Crosby — Galchenyuk
McCann — Malkin — Hornqvist
Aston-Reese — Bjugstad — Rust
Tanev — Blueger — Kahun
Based on Galchenyuk’s surge of hard play in the second half of last season, combined with his natural scoring ability, the Penguins top line could be scary good, if Galchenyuk continues forward and does not regress. Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel hit major milestones as Crosby notched 100 points and Guentzel potted 40 goals. Galchenyuk could have his career breakout season, finally.
If Hornqvist returns to his proper form, the Penguins second line will give the Penguins a powerful, fast, and remarkably talented top-six. The defensive responsibility and low-end offensive upside of the Penguins third line could be a shutdown line with a positive goal differential.
The Penguins right wings could flip. If the Penguins feel they need more creativity on the third line because our version is comprised of pluggers, Dominik Kahun or Dominik Simon could slot there.
The Penguins bottom-six will be defensively responsible, fast and have more jam than the team employed in a long time. It’s an interesting mix, but additional turnover could greatly affect the line combos.