Dupuis gives staff options; Leopold eyed as a long-term fit?
Pittsburgh Penguins winger Billy Guerin (back spasms) intends to return to the lineup Thursday night when the Penguins return to action against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Guerin will reclaim his spot alongside Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz on the first line, bumping winger Pascal Dupuis off of the first line.
Dupuis who ranks third among Penguins wingers with 16 goals, is playing his best hockey of his career and has shown the ability to be a fit with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
When healthy, the coaching staff has no intentions of splitting up Crosby’s line and for the time being, want to give Ruslan Fedotenko the first shot on wing with Evgeni Malkin and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
However, Dupuis emergence as a more consistent goal scorer and effective forechecker will push Ruslan Fedotenko to bring his “A” game on a more consistent basis or face the strong possibility of losing a spot in the lineup.
Bylsma has not been shy in the past to demote an under-achieving top-6 forward, just look to Petr Sykora or Miroslav Satan and I’m told that while Fedotenko is not on a short-leash, he’s not a lock to remain on the second like some of the local media thinks he is.
Pittsburgh has a good problem on their hands and Dupuis is either going to push Fedotenko to elevate his play or push him out of the lineup.
Penguins eye Leopold long-term
Defenseman Jordan Leopold has modest stats through four games, 1 assist and a +1 rating but members of the organization and the coaching staff have been raving about his play on the ice.
One source says management eyes Leopold as a long-term player and there’s a belief among some of the Penguins scouting staff that Leopold is playing in the type of system that he will excel in.
The under-achieving defenseman has bounced around the league over the past two years but also see’s Pittsburgh as a good fit, according to agent Ben Hankinson.
With only two defensemen signed beyond next season and Sergei Gonchar not close to a new deal, Leopold has an opportunity to earn a multi-year contract with a franchise that might finally be a good fit for him.
The puck is now on his stick
Enforcer Eric Godard has been cleared to do some light skating. Godard has been sidelined for over four weeks with a torn groin but is still at least 10-14 days away from being cleared to play.