Latest Penguins Buzz: Two bigger needs emerging for Penguins than a scoring winger


Are people out of touch who feel the Penguins biggest need is a scoring winger for Evgeni Malkin?
“Scoring is not the issue with that hockey club,” an NHL scout said.
I polled six evaluators on Thursday and Friday of what the Penguins biggest needs are leading up to the April 3rd trade deadline with the question ranging from a third line forward with size/grit to make the Penguins tougher to play against, top-4 defenseman or a scoring winger.
Three said a third line forward, two said a top-4 defenseman and one said a scoring winger.
The Penguins needing to be tougher to play against is becoming an increasing concern for this team. From the players to the coaching staff, the Penguins are built on quick transition and pushing the play the other way. What they lack is that big imposing line that can wear teams down. “That’s where losing {Jordan} Staal hurts them,” an NHL source said. “The Sutter kid is a good player, {but} he doesn’t make it tough on the opposition. Jordan was a force out there that made them such a matchup problem for rest of the league {in the past}.”
The problem is whether the Penguins feel they aren’t tough enough to play against. The same goes for a defenseman who can be an imposing player in defending the front of the net, something that’s really lacked with this team since Hal Gill left, but the Penguins haven’t felt it’s been an area of concern as they are infatuated with defensemen that can move the puck.
Finding an ideal third line forward that has size and grit, in addition to fitting the Penguins system of being able to skate is going to be difficult.

There’s not many Brandon Prust’s out there. Buffalo’s Steve Ott continues to be a name that makes a lot of sense but there’s going to be few available and realistic players out there for the Penguins to address this need by the trade deadline, we’re they to see it as a problem like so many others seem to do.
I would bet the Penguins go after a player more in the mold of Matt Cullen who has speed and is versatile than a toughness type player.
However, I asked a scout of two players (non-rental players) he’s high on that would fit these specific needs for the Penguins; 1. A forward with size who can make the Penguins tougher to play against; 2. A physical defenseman with size;
He mentioned two surprise names; New York Islanders winger Matt Martin and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alex Emelin. Neither, though, would be easy to acquire.
“I really like Martin in New York,” the scout said. He’s more than an enforcer…. can give you 10-12 minutes a night, kill penalties, and I feel his game has room to grow.”
The 23 year old Martin has great size at 6-foot-3, 215-pounds and leads the NHL with 93 hits. Martin has just 1 goal on the season but had 7 goals in 80 games last season and 5 goals in 68 games in 2010-2011.
Martin is averaging 1:47 of ice time shorthanded and he’s more than just a fourth line slug, although he’s not a player you want playing on your third line full time. He’s more of a player you can move up and down the third and fourth line in certain situations.
Martin, though, wouldn’t be easy to acquire and it’s not like the Islanders are looking to move him. They are high on him, signing him to a four year deal in September and he has three years left on his deal with a cap hit of $1 million.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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