By PowerPlayCJ @powerplaywithcj on July 8, 2014
With James Neal and Jussi Jokinen gone, the Pittsburgh Penguins will be looking everywhere for wingers to play alongside the world class tandem of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. With options existing both inside and outside the team, look for new GM Jim Rutherford to get creative. While mainstays such as Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis will surely be there, look for new faces to get looks alongside the Pens’ dynamic duo.
While the notion may seem laughable, Heatley is out there and will come very cheap. Heatley played with Crosby for Canada at the 2010 Olympics, and it is important not to downplay that connection. If there was one place for Heatley to get back to his goal scoring glory it would be alongside Crosby or Malkin.
Another almost laughable notion is the 18-year-old joining the Pens this season, but according to new GM Jim Rutherford it could happen. Having a teenage linemate would be a surprise for Crosby and Malkin, but Kapanen is gifted offensively and could just do it. It would be in the Pens’ and Kapanen’s best interest, however, to allow him to develop outside the NHL before such pressure is put on his young shoulders.
While Downie appears to fill the role of “enforcer” it’s worth noting he once scored 20 goals playing alongside Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis in Tampa Bay. Having his physicality and pugnacity coupled with his nose for the net could make him a poor man’s Rick Tocchet alongside Sid or Malkin.
The California native has played with the two elite centers in the past, but injuries have kept him from becoming a full-time NHL mainstay. A return to health would make him a near lock to join Crosby and Malkin in the Penguins’ top 6. His youth and offensive ability would surely give the Pens a new look in that role.
The former 30-goal scorer in Nashville will look to increase his productivity playing alongside better playmakers than he had in the Music City. Look for his nose for the net to be on full display as he becomes one of Crosby and Malkin’s favorite targets down low all year long.
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