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Projecting New Penguins Lines: Prospects, Friedman and Holes to Fill

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Sam Poulin Pittsburgh Penguins

There were only three free-agent signings across the NHL on Saturday. Teams have picked clean the meaty buffet, and mostly green beans and burnt rolls remain before the bill comes. The Pittsburgh Penguins stayed within budget with a four-year deal to Brock McGinn to provide down-line physicality and speed, but a few lineup holes are visible as we layout the Penguins lines.

The Penguins also signed talented but soft winger Danton Heinen, formerly of the Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks. Heinen scored 14 points (7-7-14) last season in an Anaheim sweater, and his presence is probably tenuous at best. Heinen will need to show the competitiveness that dots head coach Mike Sullivan lineups.

It looks more and more like the Penguins, and GM Ron Hextall may rely on in-house solutions to fill spots in the Penguins lineup, and a few of the Penguins prospects will have short paths to NHL ice.

We’ll finish up our video reviews of Sam Poulin and Filip Hallander as the two most likely prospects to get into the lineup. Our scouting reports have been pretty spot-on, if I do say so myself. Of course, our network of scouts and professionals has helped tremendously.

It’s probably too aggressive to pencil Poulin or Hallander into the October lineup, but it isn’t out of the question to see Poulin by mid-season. Poulin is often a cautious starter. He eased himself into his first Penguins training camp and hasn’t yet elbowed his way past others, but it’s just about time for him to try.

We certainly know Nathan Legare will go all-out in camp, but he likely needs a bit of AHL seasoning. But we do like his attitude.

For the moment, we’ll do the lines without Malkin, with an assumption Malkin isn’t ready for the start of the season. However, we should note the Penguins have not put a timetable on Malkin’s return and only committed to him missing the start of training camp.

Also, you’ll notice Malkin’s absence creates a fourth-line center hole. Minnesota lured Frederick Gaudreau away with a two-year deal with a $1.2 million AAV. That looks like a bigger loss now than it did on July 28.

The only current roster or non-roster player who could fill the spot is Evan Rodrigues. Expect the Penguins to find a depth center, but as you can see, the Malkin-less Penguins’ fourth line is a mishmash of talent.

We think Dominik Simon will be the 13th forward, too.

Pittsburgh Penguins Lines (October):

Guentzel-Crosby-Rust

Zucker-Carter-Kapanen

McGinn–Blueger–Aston-Reese

Heinen-Rodrigues-Lafferty

Defense:

Dumoulin-Letang

Matheson- Marino

Pettersson-Friedman

Penguins Lines (with Malkin)

Guentzel-Crosby-Rust

Zucker-Malkin-Kapanen

Heinen–Carter–Aston-Reese

McGinn-Blueger-Rodrigues

Defense

Dumoulin-Letang

Matheson- Marino

Pettersson-Friedman

Tristan Jarry is the goalie. The offseason chatter became bigger than we expected, but chatter won’t change the situation. Penguins President of Hockey Operations was firm in support of Jarry, and all-but-guaranteed he will be the starting goalie next season.

Transcription from Andrew Filipponi of 93-7 the Fan:

“Tristan is the reason why we won the division. He’s going to be really good here in the future. He’s going to be just fine.”

PHN has not been able to verify contact with any of the RHD UFAs, including the popular Erik Gudbranson. The Penguins have Mark Friedman, who showed well in very limited time, but he’s unproven at best.

WIthout the traded Jared McCann and the expansion selected Brandon Tanev, the Penguins need scoring and physicality in their lineup. McGinn will help, but the Penguins need Heinen to reclaim his 40-point form.

That’s a big ask, but the Hextall didn’t risk much money ($1.1 million).

Perhaps the Pittsburgh Penguins can find some green beans and rolls to fortify their “win now” lineup. As of Aug. 1, much will fall on Jason Zucker to produce more offense than previously in his Penguins tenure.

“We would like to tweak some things, and we’re going to continue to monitor the free-agent market to see what’s out there and see if we find any fits that are upgrades for us,” Hextall said last week.

We await the tweaks.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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kingpuck
kingpuck
1 month ago

“IF” this is it…..we aren’t making the playoffs.

Christopher
Christopher
1 month ago
Reply to  kingpuck

you copy and paste that from the last 5 years?

Rich Filardi
Rich Filardi
1 month ago
Reply to  Christopher

3 centers over 30, 2 35 and older, if your not questioning scoring from this team. You should be. This,team health is always an issue. Its fragile.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rich Filardi
Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Christopher

Well, we haven’t been a serious contender in 5 years, so why not?

PenPal
PenPal
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

so the Stanley Cup 4 years ago was an accident?

Ken Colligan
1 month ago

Hextall had a unique opportunity to buy out Petterson. As a 25 year player he could have been bought out for only 670k per. Subtracting Joseph salary, Pens would have saved 2.5 mill per over the next three years. Now Joseph will stay in the minors this year and Petterson then becomes a 4million 7th D for the next three. Only deal to be made is for another teams untradeable player. Not sure that helps Pens. With Montour signed at 500k less. Cernak signed for more than a million less. No team will touch Petterson contract. A bold and creative… Read more »

Kris Francis Peterinelli
Kris Francis Peterinelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken Colligan

Ken, Yikes $670,000 per year of wasted dollars for the next 8 years? What happens if Pettersson has a bounce back year and does much better? I still think they can trade him although they are not going to get anything of value but if they make a big splash trade he could be the added filler. Time will tell. The Pens have only ever bought out 1 player as we know. So I’m not sure that’s a GM thing or an organization decision to not carry dead money when at all possible.

Ken Colligan
1 month ago

3.4mill saved over the first four years. Last 4 years the cap is no longer static . Likely to go up dramatically. 670 k absorbed easily.

Pittsburghbob69
Pittsburghbob69
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken Colligan

Wow, Pettersson is just 26 years old. I agree it’s not feasible with the flat cap to pay 3 LHD 4M plus. And PO-J looks like he’s ready to step in and can atleast play 3rd pairing minutes. Or Rikkola if he struggles. But even if the Pens would retain, say 500k and trade Pettersson at 3.5M per for 4 years, it would be better than buying him out. No team/GM would touch Mathesons contract. That was the mistake. Marino’s numbers/analytics are all better when playing with Pettersson as his pairing. After this season, Pettersson has 3 years left on… Read more »

Ken Colligan
1 month ago

Believe me, if holding 500k would have facilitated a Petterson deal he would be long gone. Philly had to include second round pick to move Ghost. That is going rate. Unfortunately, Pens lack the assets. In a year or less he will be a 4 million 7 d .

Brandon O
Brandon O
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken Colligan

Petterson isn’t as bad as most seem to think and he is not untradeable. Him and marino form a serviceable 2nd pair. Steady and reliable defensive play but nothing flashy. If marino takes a step up, that pair will be fine. If you’ve been paying attention, this team needs 8 nhl caliber D every year bc of injuries. Giving away petterson would be putting alot of faith into POJ being ready for a regular role, and this team not having it’s annual parade to the IR. They are wise not to dump petterson. The real anchor is matheson, and we… Read more »

German Pens Fan
German Pens Fan
1 month ago

Honestly, at the moment with this roster the Play Offs will be difficult, Rags and Flyers improved their teams, Canes and Caps will be on top of the Metropolitan. Isles are extremely strong. As much as I respect Sully, he’s stubborn and ego-driven, I can’t see the Pens having succes with that soft roster, NHL direction fits not the Sully System in 2021.

Brandon O
Brandon O
1 month ago

The flyers haven’t proven anything yet, all they did was shuffle the deck. It can be argued they got worse… The key to their success is hart bouncing back. The rangers may have gotten a bit tougher, but they also gave away buchnevich, and haven’t really moved the needle with their soft defense. Their success depends on laf and kakko growing into their potential. If so, they will be dangerous regardless of the moves they made this off-season. The canes got worse, and the caps got older. This division is still very much up for grabs.

Katz
Katz
1 month ago

Who needs Webster’s Dictionary?

Let’s use Burke’s unabridged Penguin dictionary.

Look up:

tru·​cu·​lent .

https://schachenmayr.com/en/yarns/soft-easy-0

Katz
Katz
1 month ago
Reply to  Katz

Is there any truculence in that roster? Are they any harder to play against that the last rosters that lost in the First Round? I’m only asking the questions that I would want those who do this for a living to ask? I give Dan credit for his column ‘Is that it …..’. This is the team and roster that is going to be more difficult to play against? When Ristolinen hits Crosby in the head this season , or Wilson nails Guentzel or Letang from behind , or teams start running then how does Pgh respond. With a failed… Read more »

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
1 month ago
Reply to  Katz

Physicality is something the Pens do not have and as long as Sullivan is here we will not have. Burkie said he would thrash things out with the coach, BULLSHIT!

Katz
Katz
1 month ago

It’s not even Physicality per se. Look Montreal got Josh Anderson for Mac Domi and a 3rd. A big fast young physical player with skill. Pgh traded for Zucker by giving Galchenyuk, Calen Addison, and a first round pick. I don’t think Sullivan would have even asked for Anderson? This teams roster , in my opinion is horribly deficient because of Sullivan. Do I know that for a fact? No. But Reaves was traded away prior to the reason he was acquired, at an extraordinary franchise debilitating cost . Take a look at what was given for Brassard. Beyond comprehension.… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Katz
alan
alan
1 month ago

Even if they make the playoffs with this soft lineup they will be driven from it with physicality. They have to find a way to get Angelo and Zahorna into the lineup. Forget Rodreguez he is not upside. I believe Hextall’s plan is to do a sell off at the trade deadline.

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
1 month ago

Hexy is being responsible and getting the cap and finances in order. Don’t trade that first round pick because I think it will be top 5. Malkin may not play another game for Pens. I don’t believe he and Letang will accept discounted new extensions so I believe they will be traded at the trade deadline. You think we look bad now wait till next year. Turn out the lights the party is over

Brandon O
Brandon O
1 month ago

This is a division winning team that didn’t lose that much, and despite being so “soft”, they outplayed the reigning ecf runner up islanders and only lost bc of our goalie choking. Despite all the clamoring for grit and sandpaper, matt martin and the supposed “best 4th line in hockey” had hardly any effect on the game and were not the reason we lost. Imagine thinking that we will trade generational talents that won us 3 cups and this team will finish in the bottom 5. elite superstar athletes don’t just fall off a cliff at 35, they will gracefully… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Brandon O
Ken Colligan
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon O

Martin line played predominately against Crosby line. Pens first line was invisible.

PenPal
PenPal
1 month ago

I don’t get: how will Malkin get traded if he has a full NMC? The only way that trade is possible is if he agrees to it.

I doubt he’ll agree to move his family to a new city for a couple months just to go somewhere else in the summer, so it’d be a trade-and-sign. Since Penguins have no leverage & Malkin is deciding the destination, I don’t think there’ll be any return on this. Without a return, why would the Penguin front office even waste time on this?

Ken Colligan
1 month ago
Reply to  PenPal

This is true. The ship has sailed on any type of Malkin return.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Dan, is there a player that could surprise in training camp and make the team?

We keep hearing about Poulin and Legare, but how about this Puustinen kid? Is he coming to North America anytime soon? I have seen some highlights and he definitely has some ability. I would like to see if he can play. Those 3 in Wilkes Barre could possibly do some damage and be young energy to revitalize this team. Its a STRETCH, but possible right?

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

This lineup is not worse than the patchwork lineup they played with last season through all the injuries. Losing Gaudreau is going to hurt the center depth for sure. Hopefully Rodrigues can fill in there and do a decent job. One thing i would like to see is maybe Zucker having some chemistry with Carter and then keep them together when Malkin comes back. Zucker and Malkin just doesn’t work so they should stop trying to make it happen. Then each of the centers would have a regular linemate. Guentzel and Crosby, Malkin and Kapanen, Zucker and Carter, Blueger and… Read more »

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