The Penguins coaching staff has been very pleased with winger Nick Johnson, along with a number of higher up’s in the organization.
A concern by some scouts has been Johnson’s speed but the Penguins believe he has the speed to keep up with Evgeni Malkin and Malkin has let the coaching staff know he likes playing with Johnson, a source tells me.
I’m also told that Johnson fit in very well in the locker room, and didn’t looked overwhelmed during his short stint. Johnson has put himself in prime position to be penciled in on Malkin’s line heading into training camp next season.
*Meanwhile, the notion that Luca Caputi was a lock to be a regular next season is no longer the case.
As one source put it, “he was too hesitant, too slow and too weak on the puck” in his recent callup. Caputi has not been written off by any means, but he was given some clear direction on what he needs to do over the next 7 months.
*Pittsburgh also won’t be banking on Eric Tangradi to be a potential top-6 winger out of training camp next season.
Tangradi is progressing along like many thought he would as the growing consensus from scouts prior to the season is that he needed time to develop in the minors after playing against younger players in Juniors last season.
Tangradi has posted modest stats, 9 goals and 9 assists in 36 games played and is going through some growing pains in Wilkes Barre.
However, a concern in the organization has been the lack of consistent aggressiveness and physical play from Tangradi and his commitment off the ice has been in question by some. It’s not a big concern though.
The talent is clearly there but he has a ways to go in adapting to professional hockey on-and-off the ice, which is expected from a young player.
Letang/Talbot trade buzz
Pittsburgh is not turning away any inquiries on Kris Letang but it’s been described to me that it’s going to take a “great offer” for Penguins GM Ray Shero to move the young defenseman.
Shero’s asking price is at a Ryan Whitney asking price. Don’t look for anyone to meet that price.
Max Talbot has drawn interest from Toronto, Carolina, St. Louis, and Phoenix, in preliminary trade talks. Pittsburgh prefers not to move him.
Sources tell me not to expect anything significant until after the Olympic Break.