Don’t assume that Mike Comrie was signed to play wing alongside either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. It could happen, but Comrie is also a strong possibility to center the third line.
Other moves being considered are:
*Malkin and Jordan Staal will play together, but Malkin will be the one moving to wing, specifically right wing. Matt Cooke may round out that line, the better to maximize possession down low and create space for Malkin. Malkin operates well out of scrambles.
*Eric Tangradi is being mooted as a third-liner at the start of his NHL career. I believe that would be a mistake. Yeah, it worked with Jaromir Jagr. But it didn’t work with Aleksey Morozov. Morozov spent so much time playing on the third and fourth lines, he ultimately became a third- or fourth-liner. His style morphed, and not for the better. Talent-wise, Tangradi is a lot closer to Morozov than Jagr. Stylistically, Tangradi has a lot more grit than either.
When it comes to skating with Crosby and Chris Kunitz, Comrie over Pascal Dupuis is not an easy choice. Lifetime, Comrie is a more prolific scorer than Dupuis (.29 goals per game to .19), but Dupuis had 18 goals last season. Speed-wise, either can keep up.
The Penguins now have 13 forwards under NHL contract. That does not bode well for two-way contract players like Chris Conner, Dustin Jeffrey, Nick Johnson, Mark Letestu, etc. They have to beat out Tyler Kennedy to make the team. Bad news for TK: Don’t rule that out. Kennedy is very much out of favor with management.
Bad news for ALL the two-way guys: Don’t rule Tangradi out. If he makes the Penguins, they’re screwed. Kennedy, too.
On defense, I’d like to see Deryk Engelland nudge aside Ben Lovejoy for the sixth spot. Lovejoy is OK. The Penguins could just use a defenseman with Engelland’s edge. But do his skills and skating cut it? How close is Simon Despres?
Please note: Many of the “analysts” in the COMMENTS section mention dropping enforcer Eric Godard. That won’t happen. Godard fills a very necessary role, he works hard, leads in his own way and his teammates love him. He’s valuable. Trust me on this one.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).