Putting together a puzzle

Well since I’ve been hearing everyone say, “if you’re sick of seeing leafs articles, then write an article about your team or another team.” I’ve noticed that there hasn’t been a pens article in a while so hear it goes.

So, I’ve been looking at the pens roster and there are still so many question marks. I believe that the pens will be one of the top teams in the East but first they have to put this roster together. Michelle Therrien has his work cut out for him trying to put together almost an overflow of talent. Definitly an overflow of good centers.

I keep hearing people say that Jordan Staal plays better at center and Erik Christensen plays better at center. but there is a problem…there are only 4 lines. these guys need to adjust to there role at wing. especially christensen because he could make a good 2nd line winger.

I also look at the players they acquired, sykora and sydor. sydor will be a great helper on defense in bringing along young star defenceman kris letang and sykora will add some serious scoring. but there is yet another question. who is sykora going to play with? with his former Russian teammate Evgeni Malkin or Crosby. Also where is Recchi going to fit in. He may not be able to even squeeze into the top 2 lines. I believe a move that needs to be made is Ryan Malone. I almost don’t even care for what or who anymore. This guy just doesnt’ fit into the team and the pens could probably get a decent return.

My last thing that I’ve been thinking about is…will the pens sign or trade for anyone else? I do believe that the pens will dump malone and get draft picks and maybe a role player. they should also sign another stay at home defensive player but I don’t think that will be done. It’s mentioned that they need another top 6 winger but that would just make this roster even more hectic than it really is. However, I would like to see the team pick up Mike Johnson to play on our 3rd or 4th line. That would be a great pick up.

My prediction for the roster next year:




ruutu-johnson/brent/malone/taffe/who know’s-laraque



whitney- orpik

sydor- letang

What do you guys think the pens roster will look like next year? feel free to comment on mine?


67 Responses to Putting together a puzzle

  1. kamullia says:

    Talbot is a great player for what he does, but dropping the gloves?  Yes, he is feisty.  It is wonderful he comes and steps up if someone is being taken advantage of.  However, let us face the fact that 5'11" 190 lbs he is not suited to be the tough guy.

    Unless he can grow claws and call himself "Wolverine" I think Maxime does better for the Pens in faceoffs (he was brilliant at key times, hopefully he can get better), penalty-kills, and buzzing around anyone on the other team who happens to have the puck.

    I do agree that he probably should be on a third line with the article, but the personnel in Pittsburgh pushes some people to the 4th line and Maxime will probably see the bulk of his ice-time there this year, as you mention.

  2. kamullia says:

    I agree that Sydor should not be in the first pairing. But he certainly might demand the time. In Dallas last season he averaged 20 minutes of ice-time per game from the second-pairing, therefore I would not be surprised to see him wanting something similar.

    However, I am not quite sure Savard would succumb to pressure from Sydor. There are a lot of interesting questions to be answered on defense for the Penguins.

  3. kamullia says:

    I would not call him defensive defenseman, even if his game has had to transition to that.  I simply do not regard him good enough to give him that label.

    I look at him as almost an exclusive power-play specialist given his past history of offensive traits, but he does bring more defense than most power-play specialists.

  4. kamullia says:

    On Esposito's defense, not everyone expected Staal to even make the team last year, and I can testify that I was one of them. I still think that logistically it was not logical, but he did prove he deserved it.

    To keep in mind is the fact that there is absolutely no chance for Angelo to make this team at center. But given his knack for scoring and the Penguins sore need for wingers, if he transitions to the wing, and with the help of such talented centers? The perfect glove! The TSN analysts were right on the money when they labeled it as the best situation that Angelo could have dreamed of, with Pittsburgh.

    Motivation anyone?  I hope no one forgets that as McGuire said: "He is a very pissed off hombre," and Esposito is salivating at the chance of proving every dissenting analyst wrong, and especially the Canadiens for not drafting him (regardless of what he said, he was really hoping Montréal would draft him). By the way, did anyone notice the look on Esposito after being drafted? Didn't it just come out and say "Oh, I've got you now! Give me a puck, quick!" He surely gave me the impression he was about to jump out of his own skin in his first post-draft interview just seconds off the stage.

    So let camp get here and let Esposito do what he can. Maybe he will surprise us all.

  5. mike7psu says:

    When it comes to the Pens lines, there is almost no reason to put up combos.  They are changed shift to shift most games, so lineups are changed about as many times as most of us shower.
    So I will concentrate more on what the line should have on it, than who should be on it.  Also with this team, its not #1 line #2 line. The top 2 lines play the same amount, so its like 1a and 1b.

    Crosby's line:
    When you talk about a line in traditional sense, you have a grinder, a passer, and a scorer. Well Crosby can do all these things, so you more want to highlight what he does best, and that is pass the puck.  He will work the corners, so you do not need to give him a grinder on most nights, and more need to put snipers and scorers with him. I think Sykora was brought in for Crosby to give him a scorer, so who do you put on the other side?  The guy needs to be a finisher in his own right, but also needs to be able to play in his own zone, because Crosby and Sykora are going to get caught up ice.  I personally think Staal might be the best fit here on most nights because he can definatly score, but his +16 and two way mentality might be exactly what Crosby's line needs.  Also in games with Philly, and other teams that might try to push Crosby around, I would not be surprised to see Roberts, or even Ruttu or Laraque on his line from shift to shift to give him more space. But overall I would like to see scorers with Crosby, and Sykora-Crosby-Staal together looks nice.  Also Christensen-Crosby-Staal.

    Malkin's Line:
    Malkin is a scorer, and a banger. He loves to hit, and at times last year it almost looked like he was worried about injuring himself (like the first game in preseason) and did not just play his style of game.  I think he takes way too many shifts off, and needs a vet on his line to push him to keep up the work ethic by himself never quitting while he is on the ice.  You know who this sounds like, Gary Roberts. While I dont exactly feel Roberts in a good fit on this line for long periods of time, he is exactly what Malkin needs when he starts to disapear during games. I think Roberts might be a guy that goes on Malkin's line for 3 or 4 games or even just 3 or 4 minutes to get Malkin back on track, and then moves back off of it. I really like the idea of giving Malkin a sniper to occupy some attention, as well as a bigger guy to get some of the defensemen off of Malkin's back.  So a line like Roberts-Malkin-Christensen sounds nice, but also lines like Malone-Malkin-Christensen could work, Roberts/Malone-Malkin-Staal as well.

    3rd Line:
    This line needs to have all the energy.  They are not going to be needed to score goals, but should be able to score. What its main purpose should be is to tire out and bang on the other teams top lines, and give jolts of lightning to the tops lines if they start to become lifeless during games. Armstrong, and Recchi should live on this line, as their energy and electricity are top notch, but there talent is just not top line material.  My biggest unknown is who to center this line. Malone might be a good person here, but only if he can become more reliable. I dont like Christensen here, as his shot would be wasting away with players that are going to grind out goals in the crease. Also I think Talbot is not good enough to get this much playing time, but does fit the grinding material. Staal would fit here, but I think his Penguin future is on the wing.  He could fetch a nice scoring winger if they would be inclined to do so, but thats a whole other topic that also might include Malkin an not Stall.  Also when Roberts in not on the top lines he would be a great fit here on the wing, and let Malone take his spot on the top lines. My lines would look like Armstrong-Malone-Recchi, or even Roberts-Talbot-Recchi with Armstrong dropping down to fill on the fourth line. And speaking of…

    Fourth Line-
    Well Ruttu and Laraque are going to do what they do.  That being irritation and beating up on the top lines of other teams. Ruttu should never leave the Penguin sweater in my book, but thats just a personal opinion. I love what he brings to the team, and even with his penalties, I think he brings life to this team more than any other player when the Pens need a change in momentum. Laraque, well I dont think anyone will ever confuse him with Sidney, but he did bring instant space for Crosby when he got here.  Very few times did I see Sid being cheap shotted after his trade. He is known so well that he only had to fight once to become the most feared guy in the Eastern Conference. I do not at all think he should touch the ice in the playoffs, but I defenatly see his presence on the bench adding 10 points overall to the Pens point total in the season. He is needed for the 82 game stretch, just not for most games after that. Not sure who you would need to center this line. Talbot is the obvious choice, but if Talbot centers the thrid line you could easily bring up Brent to this line to actually give the Pens a faceoff man.  Also you need to remember that the same guys dont play all season, and some of the minor leaguers and healthy scratches will play on this line from time to time. I see the line looking different depending on if they need a speed line or a fighting line as well.  So in all I would say most of the time it should look like Ruttu-Talbot-Laraque.  But a Ruttu-Brent-Armstrong line might also fit.

    I think people put way too much weight on a #1 pairing vs. a #2 pairing.  If we saw anything last year, we painfully saw that Melichar and Scuderi would be played just as much as anyone else, even though they coughed up the puck more than a 90 year smoker coughs up his lungs. The top two pairs are going to get similar even strength ice, the ice differences seem to come more on the PP and the PK.  I like Gonchar paired with Eaton, just because I think Eaton can control the zone by himself, while Gonchar gets back into position, most of the time when hes healthy.  Also I think Whitney will get more ice time so you need a guy to log ice with him.  I think Sydor might be the guy. He is a PP guy, but can play a good defensive game and let Whitney explore some freedom.  Also I like these two as the 2nd PP Unit defensemen so let them play together at all times to get used to each other.  The 3rd pairing should include Letang and the big hitter in Orpik. Although Orpik, who gets way out of postion hitting, and Letang being a rookie might not be a good idea because of contrasting styles.  I think Orpik can play the stay at home game that Letang will need to allow him to venture with the puck on his own.  Also dont be shocked if Nasredinne pops up with Letang, as his defensive mindset is going to be needed throughout the season, also Scuderi.

    Fleury is the #1 and will play around 65-70 games.  Sabourin was brought in to be his backup and is qualified to do so. Seeing that Conklin got a two way deal should tell you right there that hes heading the AHL, and will probably get 1 start at the most this season.

  6. gambit101 says:

    i love mr espo and all but i dont think he is ready… but who knows till next year

  7. gambit101 says:

    well even tho for my hockey pool i would rather malkin with crosby this is how i think lines will suit best…..

    Rechhi – Crosby – Sykora

    Stall – Malkin – Roberts

    Armstrong – Talbot – Rechhi

    Laraque – Malone – Laraque

    Gonchar – Sydor

    Whitney – Orpik

    Eaton – Letang/Nassardine

    Fleury strating of course

  8. czarrichter says:

    recchi playing two lines?  damn near impossible, and at his age!

    i know i know, simple mistake, forgot you used him.  i'm guessing christensen then on the third line?
  9. czarrichter says:

    everyone knows the lines will look different game to game, even shift to shift.  but here is what i would LIKE to see the lineup look like, but as far as a prediction i have no idea.  a lot will obviously depend on how camp goes.

    LW – C – RW
    staal – crosby – christensen
     – malone always looks tempting here as a finisher and a punisher, but we all know he can't get the job done.  it's also tough because christensen isn't the best winger-convertee (did i just make that up?) and giving staal first line responsibility might be over-bearing.  its funny, they can't seem to find anyone they want to keep on the first line because they don't produce how they should yet crosby won the scoring title.  (power play had a lot to do with this, that and him just cutting through 4 defenseman and doing it himself.)  i see sykora and malkin getting bumped up here at times, moving staal to second-line center.  my thoughts on christensen are he is a scorer, so why put him below anything but the top two lines?  and why not put him with the best passer in the game?  well, one reason might be because he doesn't play wing very well.  maybe malkin gets bumped up and christensen plays 2nd line center?  or malkin moves to second line wing and sykora gets bumped up while christensen still plays 2nd line center?  there are a lot of possibilities, but keep christensen on the top 2 lines, please!
    recchi – malkin – sykora
     – recchi gives these guys energy and don't forget malkin had over 50 assists last season so he can set up a sniper too, plus he and sykora played together before.  note the possible changes from the top line, which would change this line, but also recchi could fall to the third line if someone like espo, filewhich, or stone cracks the lineup giving their scoring abilities.  especially espo, filewhich and stone might stay on the fourth line if they crack the lineup, but a talent like espo on the fourth line doesn't make much sense.  i don't see him making the lineup though, and i see filewhich and stone coming in and out at times, like games where we don't really need enforcers (or malone, roberts, armstrong, and orpik are enough) and therrien wants offense on the fourth line.
    roberts – talbot – armstrong
    – maybe the hardest working, roughest, toughest, looking to hit line in the NHL.  staal could find his way all the way down here as he and roberts played very well together last season, especially in the playoffs.  maybe espo, filewhich, or stone shows enough offensive ability to crack the top two lines, allowing staal to drop all the way down here giving this line not only toughness but scoring too.  maybe recchi drops down with his energy and scoring ability, now there are 3 offensive lines to worry about, plus your third line is still energetic and then your fourth line is tough.  or, roberts could find himself all the way up on the first line.  armstrong could get bumped up too.  like i said, with therrien behind the bench, who knows what the lineup will look like from game to game.
    ruutu – malone – laraque
    – this line could depend on espo, filewich and stone, plus brent cracking the lineup every so often too i think.  really i hope malone has a solid enough year to keep his trade value up and we get rid of him come trade deadline.  um, see 2nd line comments i guess.
    ok, at first this is how i saw it based on the pairings last season
    gonchar – eaton
    whitney – orpik
    letang – sydor
    however, noting other posts, i kind of like this
    gonchar – sydor
    whitney – orpik
    letang – eaton
    i'd like to see sydor log more ice time than eaton, and eaton can teach letang just as much as sydor can (or at least close to it).  i also like nasreddine as our first call up and then scuderi.  unless of course shero has one more move, however i still might like nasreddine over anyone shero brings in because nasreddine just plays hockey, and plays it well.
    probably not the back up you want with your starting goaltender only having one solid year under his belt, and the numbers weren't all that great except for the 40 wins.  but conklin isn't all that much better, and based on their contracts i say sabourin starts out as the back up.  would have liked to seen auld or aebischer instead of conklin, but they are probably more expensive and i think the pens are really sold on sabourin.
    malkin – crosby – sykora
    gonchar – whitney
    roberts – staal – recchi
    letang – sydor
    actually, the power play will be interesting, i feel you have to put christensen out there, but where?  they didn't use staal last year so maybe he centers the second line and staal comes in for 5 on 3 reasons only with that big frame and scoring touch. roberts probably doesn't see power play time every game as well.  either way, the first line power play is going to be crazy-go-nuts.
    is this the year crosby and/or malkin crack the penalty kill to scare power plays in to turnovers?  i don't know.  as for now, i say no.
    staal – malone
    gonchar – sydor
    talbot – armstrong
    whitney – orpik
    i don't know who, but eaton probably takes the place of one of the defenseman
    and with that, it's just about lunch time.
  10. czarrichter says:

    actually, thinking about it…

    malkin – crosby – sykora
    recchi – staal/christensen – christensen/staal
    roberts – talbot – armstrong
    ruutu – malone – laraque
    could be very dangerous, especially the first line.  wouldn't be surprised to see that line up out there (which is the power play lineup i created) a good bit, especially IF (ok there will be times when) the pens are behind and need offense.
    ok, now lunch.
  11. gronk says:

    now that you put it that way, it makes sense that he COULD make this team.  If he does make it though, he definitly shouldn't be playing on the 4th line where he can't even produce anyway.  It would be another question where to put him and he's not going to pass up a christensen or armstrong just because of a strong camp. 

  12. kamullia says:

    Well, it is still realistically a long shot, but he should be quite motivated.

    As to where he would play, I think that he might start in the 4th line, but if Shero is to keep him the entire season, and that is the only way they could keep him past 9 games (he has to go back to Junior otherwise. No AHL time for him), they have to think that he is capable of handle 1st or 2nd line duties. Otherwise, it might be a waste, although I do think that if they put Staal as third line center, then him and Esposito might be quite a good fit.

  13. kamullia says:

    I do not believe there is a definite right or wrong answer here, and I agree that we just have to wait and see. But I do not see things the same way you see on defense.

    The problem is that we will not see things as they really stand as far as capabilities until 10 games into the season, because if these players and Pittsburgh teams of the last two years have shown something is that they are a different team in camp, than the regular season. The team from two years ago looked pretty good in camp, and then had a horrendous year. The team from last year had Fleury and Whitney be the worst players at their positions in camp, just to completely turn things around once October got rolling.

    Whitney did a very big jump in his own end to the point where, with a little more improvement, he could become a partner for Gonchar. Gonchar's history of a slow start also does not help. Everyone puts him on the first pairing, and he deserves it with his output year-in and year-out, but it is very possible he might find himself playing behind Whitney in the beginning. Eaton was brilliant before the injury, and not very good afterwards. Scuderi had a great year overall, with an outstandingly brilliant start, but the last month or so took a decline (I am guessing fatigue). People have a short memory, but Rob was the last defenseman to get a penalty for the Pens and had the leading +/- for a while, and it was not from lack of playing time or from lack of breaking up plays. Orpik keeps improving in his own end, and Letang I think brings more than people think he does at both ends. I typically shy away from predictions, but this is my view come mid-season for the Pens on defense:

    Nasreddine reserve (and Orpik in a package traded for a 30+ goals winger).

    But do quote me on the fact that I believe Letang could very well be in the second-pairing, with Eaton perhaps, before the end of the season.

  14. kamullia says:

    Recchi playing in two lines, could be even theoretically possible (being double-shifted), but Laraque playing both wings on the same line…now that one might be a little hard to do.

  15. HockeyMessiah says:

    Thanks. Just kinda popped in my head and I thought it was funny as hell so I hoped to give someone a laugh… 😉

  16. czarrichter says:

    haha i don't know how i missed that one!

    still, by far the best lineup i've seen so far.
  17. pensfan29 says:

    simply put, no way in hell that deal happens

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