TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Nick Bonino believes he’s going to be the third line center (he will to start the season) and Eric Fehr who is recovering from elbow surgery, believes he was signed to be the Penguins 3rd line center.
So who will it be?
Hard to predict on how things will play out by the time Fehr is ready to return which may not happen until December, but if things play out like the Penguins hope, Sergei Plotnikiov proves to be a the read deal and earns a top-6 spot, David Perron proves to be the player from January, and the Penguins are not forced to play Fehr or Bonino on the wing, the ideal scenario Penguins coaches envision is Fehr anchoring a third line shutdown role with Pascal Dupuis identified as a key player to be 2/3 of the line.
Bonino has been praised for his two-way play and his analytics were good last season when you factor in the tough assignments he had, but he’s bit of a soft player who is somewhat like Brandon Sutter in that he doesn’t have the size/strength to be a true shutdown center who can match up against the big strong centers in the East like Ryan Johansen.
Fehr gives the Penguins that potential dynamic they haven’t had since Jordan Staal, reason a big priority is developing a two-way defensive minded line around him.
“Fehr is coming off a terrific year of shutting down the oppositions top lines,” Jim Rutherford said during yesterday’s conference call.
If everything plays out like the Penguins hope and it probably won’t, the goal would be for Bonino to anchor a skilled 4th line.
2. Why was a versatile two-way forward in Eric Fehr who is regarded as a great guy in the room unsigned until almost August?
The Capitals not making an attempt to resign Fehr because they believe his body is breaking down, scared teams off, an NHL source said.
Buzz among executives is some teams have had concerns about a recurring right shoulder injury for Fehr that required surgery in 2012 and has led to recurring problems off and on since and the elbow surgery led more and more teams pause on wanting to give Fehr the three year term he was seeking and eventually got from the Penguins.
Fehr missed 10 of the Capitals 14 playoff games because of a right shoulder injury, diagnosed with a third degree AC Joint sprain that the Penguins have been told wasn’t related to his previous shoulder issues from the surgery in 2011-2012.
Fehr also had a herniated disc issue in the past. There are certainly concerns that his body is breaking down and teams passed on him for that reason.
3. One area the Penguins quickly identified in the Rangers series was the lack of speed they had on the wing. New York’s speed on the left side with Chris Kreider, the now traded Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller and others, caught Jim Rutherford’s eye.
Rutherford noted yesterday the Penguins have added a lot of speed.
“We made a huge impact when we added Phil Kessel,” Rutherford said. “Powerful skater. Pascal coming back, he has good speed. Bonino, Fehr, Plotnikov good skaters. I believe with system Mike uses, we’re going to have an aggressive fast team.”
4. In the 18 games since losing Josh Harrison, Jung Ho Kang is hitting .385/.467/.615 with 9 extra-base hits. He’s the real deal and bet his agent wished they took a short-term deal. Kang is going to be an absolute bargain next couple seasons and the level he’s playing at now, he already is.
5. Not matter how good or poor Cortez Allen plays in training camp/preseason, the Steelers have all intentions of him being the starting cornerback opposite William Gay on opening night and going from there. He’s going to be handed the job and then it will be up to Allen to keep it.