With the loss of superstar third-line centerman Jordan Staal this past off-season, the Pittsburgh Penguins are lacking a large body in front of the net even with the addition of former Carolina Hurricanes forward, Brandon Sutter.
Sutter is 6’3″ and 183 pounds while what the team lost in Staal was 6’4″ and 220 pounds and someone who was just getting the hang of how to use his body in front of the net and to push guys off the puck. As good as Sutter has been on the third line, there’s a drastic difference in size (by and inch and almost 40 pounds) and that’s really something the Penguins could use right about now.
When I think of a large body with a net-front presence, my thoughts go back to the days when current Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone was part of the Penguins. When you consider all the characteristics he possesses, he appears to be a perfect fit for them.
Malone isn’t too shabby in the production department either. In the six games he’s played this season for the Lightning, he’s scored three goals and is a plus-one on the ice. Over the course of the four seasons he was with the Penguins (2003-04 through 2007-08), he scored 87 goals, recorded 82 assists for a total of 169 points in 299 games. In the five seasons he’s been with Tampa Bay (2008-09 to present), he’s recorded 84 goals, earned 97 assists for a total of 181 points in 267 games.
Malone is a 20+ goal scorer during a good, healthy season and his large body and ability to stand his own in front of opponents’ nets all make him an ideal fit for the Penguins since these are things they are in need of right now (the goal-scoring is a bonus). Add him to Crosby’s line, of which he once part of as a Penguin, and he could possibly be a powerhouse — THE powerhouse — Pittsburgh is in desperate need of right now.
Stephanie Lewark is a featured Penguins columnist for RantSports.com. If you enjoy her articles / posts, you can follow her on Twitter (@steelcitysports), check out her personal Facebook page (via Networked Blogs), visit her personal Tumblr page, or stop by her Pinterest page.