Esposito back to minors. Penguins pare roster to 27. Probable line combinations.

The Penguins pared their roster to 27 with their latest cuts, including sending Angelo Esposito back to his junior club.
With 20 players an almost definite to make the team, this leaves 3 spots up for grabs for: Ryan Stone, Tim Brent, Jonathan Filewich, Adam Hall on offense and Kris Letang, Mike Weaver and Alain Nasreddine on defense.
With Conklin being sent back, the goaltending tandem of Fleury-Sabourin is assured.
Take a deeper look for probable opening day lineups.

The Penguins pared their roster to 27 by sending forwards Nathan Smith, Connor James, Tyler Kennedy, Chris Minard, Jeff Taffe and Tim Wallace, defensemen Alex Goligoski, Ryan Lannon, Joe Rullier and Ben Lovejoy and goalie Ty Conklin to their minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre and returning centers Angelo Esposito and Dustin Jeffrey to their junior clubs.

As of now, it seems the Pens might be using Malkin, Staal and Captain Crosby in their natural center positions. If this holds, I see the opening day lineups as follows (though naturally Terrien is wont to change them often):

Recchi-Crosby-Sykora
Roberts-Malkin-Christensen
Malone-Staal-Armstrong
Ruutu-Talbot-Laraque

Stone-Brent-Hall/Filewich (I think Hall gets a roster spot)

Gonchar-Sydor
Whitney-Orpik
Letang-Eaton (Letang is one of those 3 whose got it nearly locked up)
Scuderi

Weaver-Nasreddine

Fleury
Sabourin

If Christensen can’t become a top 6 forward, my guess is he centers the 3rd line (his natural position) and Staal moves up and plays Wing on Malkin’s line.

So assuming Letang and Hall get a roster spot, who would the other spot go to? It seems Stone still has some to learn and will be sent down, as well as probably Filewich, as they wouldn’t want to stunt him on a 4th line only. However, he would assumingly be one of the first call-ups for a top 6 winger duty in case of injury. Tim Brent, who played a few games and won a Cup with the Ducks last year, may stay on, and then there’s also Mike Weaver who may make it. Alain Nasreddine will probably resume his AHL career and be one of the first callups like last year.


7 Responses to Esposito back to minors. Penguins pare roster to 27. Probable line combinations.

  1. bishop7979x says:

    I have not really been a fan of these line combos since they started floating around the papers a week or so ago.  Personally I saw some chemistry with certain players last season and would like to see those players kept together.  Christensen and Roberts, Roberts and Sidney, Malkin and Staal, that and given that Sykora and Malkin have been linemates in the past I would perfer to see them start the season together.  I would have liked to have seen,

    Sidney with Roberts and Christensen
    Malkin with Staal andSykora
    Malone with Recchi and Armstron
    Talbot with Ruutu and Hall/Laraque

    1Christensen has such and underrated shot, I think with Roberts wreaking havoc he and crosby could really do some damage together

    2Staal and Malkin were so go as a unit at times last season, throw a skilled seasoned vet on their line starting day one and watch both excel

    3great gritty two way line, ive always felt that malone playes a better two way center game than an offensive foward anyways, he's too timid at times, especially along the boards.  give him a spot at center and let him use the extra room to his advantage.

    4need to get under anouther team skin?  need to keep their top guys from scoring?  need to smack someone in the teeth?  thats this line.

  2. Milohabs says:

    I'm no Pens fan, but DAMN if that isn't an impressive line up. They have grit, size, SKILL, SKILL, SKILL, PK, PP, speed. You name it.

    If Fleury can elevate his game, these guys may make a serious run at the cup in the spring.

  3. getzlaf15 says:

    More like –

    Roberts – Crosby – Sykora

    Staal – Malkin – Recchi

    Malone – Christensen – Armstrong

    Ruutu – Talbot – Hall

    Filewich – Stone – Laraque

    Whitney – Gonchar

    Sydor – Orpik

    Eaton – Weaver

    Letang

    Fleury

    Sabourin

  4. kamullia says:

    This team is having some issues. They look good at times, but you can tell they are all not clicking where they have been placed by Therrien. It has been extremely ironic that the coach who changed lines and pairings several times in one game, has yet to make switches to this team throughout the pre-season. This says Therrien will push the issue, at least until a week into the season, but there is absolutely no chance that this team makes it to the playoffs without changes in their lines or lineup, so do not put too much into this

    I agree with your general assessment of how the team will be paired in the beginning. Hall will quite likely make this team, or otherwise he would have been let go by this point. By merit, Stone should make this team because he has shown more than anyone else has from the people looking for roster spots, and the only thing that will stop him from getting a spot is faceoffs, which is why Brent is there and is almost the only reason he would make the team for what he has shown. But when you have the absolute worst faceoff team in the league, playing a trap system, you need to be better at faceoffs or be willing to let your goalie face 40+ shots a night.

    Hence I see the lines starting as you say, but I give it two weeks at most before they are dismantled, and I see Weaver, Nasreddine, Stone, and Filewich all sent down…for now. However, do not be surprised if Weaver or Nasreddine do not make it to the AHL with several teams discovering they need further help on defense. I could be mistaken, but I also believe Filewich has to clear waivers, but the chances of him being picked are more remote.

    As far as the offensive lines…the scoring has been absolutely pathetic, including their PP, and I firmly believe they need Staal on the wing with Malkin to improve on scoring, even if they want him at center. I am convinced we will see them together sooner rather than later. I think the Pens need to try out Christensen, Crosby, Sykora; Staal, Malkin, Recchi; Roberts, Malone/Brent, Armstrong; Ruutu, Talbot, Laraque/Hall. As a minimum I my proposed combination closer to the solution than the present one.

    Defensively, in short, they have a pickle of a problem. I have watched already at least 4 goals all being scored as a result of Sydor not doing what he should have or miscommunication with Gonchar. Whitney and Orpik look quite well together, Letang and Eaton look very adequate, but Sydor needs to pick it up, because it throws the rest of the combinations out the window. I have plenty of faith on Scuderi to do what he was enlisted to do, but not play major minutes with the top offensive defenseman the Pens have (that is not what they signed him for), and therefore that would mean retooling all pairings, which would be disastrous considering two of the pairings are clicking pretty good together.

    If a retooling comes because of Sydor’s defensive inadequacies, then the question becomes who do you pair Sydor with? The answer is that you either play him little or you pair him with a defensive defenseman. Certainly not with Whitney who has his lapses and his game is expected to be one that takes some risks, and not with a rookie defenseman (although Letang has looked pretty good for a rookie who’s got 10 games of total professional experience). Therefore that leaves Orpik, Eaton, and Scuderi…and although I think the right answer is Orpik, that would mean total havoc for the other pairs, therefore I say they’ll end up with Scuderi. Making the pairs Gonchar, Eaton;Whitney, Orpik;Sydor, Scuderi/Letang; with Letang’s ice time seriously being diminished…. The best thing that can happen is Sydor picks it up, but barring that, it puts Shero in an uncomfortable situation, not being able to use Orpik in a trade for a winger, and possibly even having him shop for a defenseman instead of focusing on the wingers as he should be.

    And if a month goes by and Therrien is still sticking to his guns no matter the piling numbers in the loss column, Shero will have his excuse to dismiss Michele for good, extension be damned.

  5. kamullia says:

    Unfortunately, the lines he put down, are the actual lines being used by Therrien. This is not something that the writer is just guessing at. All he had to do is watch the pre-season games. They have put players in and taken players out but the top three lines he lists have been there no matter what if the players were slotted to play that night.

    It’s been baffling.

  6. cups_n_burgh says:

    These are the exact lines I was expecting to see.  I think Staal's agent is insisting he play at Center, because its a bigger pay cheque down the road.  Its a smart move for his career, but it will certainly be at the expense of the team in terms of face-off wins and the fact that Staal plays as one of the best wingers the Pens have.  It would be best for the team in the long run for Staal to learn the center position, but short-run we need him at wing. 

    My sense is that eventually (in 3 or 4 seasons) the Pens will have to or decide to part with Malkin in order to get the winger and d-man they need for the long haul, possibly leaving Staal as the number 2 Center.  Either way I'm one of those people that believe eventually Staal or Malkin will go so it would also benefit the pens to have Staal as a seasoned center if it is decided he's the trade bait (more in return).  So it may be best to leave him as the number 3 center for now and let him learn the ropes.

    As for the D I've also heard that Sydor isn't living up to the #1 or #2 blue-liner the Pens were hoping for.  They should have bit the bullet and paid the extra 1 to 1.5 million to get that type of player.  Now we must wait another season or see another young gun be flushed away in a trade for the D-man we've been waiting for. 

  7. intelligentscorpio says:

    It's way too early to question Sydor's performance. He may take a little bit of time to come around, but he is an experienced veteran. he will be fine. Weaver and Nasreddine may get picked up on waivers, and that's just the way the system works.

    Forward lines are all powerful but need to mesh. Therrien is safe for this year unless it's a complete disaster coming out of the gate: Remember Olzckh.

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