Latest Penguins Buzz

Insider Only Latest Pens Chatter: McClement viewed as having strong chance to earn contract

Latest Pens Buzz

An interesting dynamic on how the Penguins roster has played out this summer is the likelihood of the team reverting away from being a four line scoring team.

Some believe the acquisition of tough guy Ryan Reaves started getting the ball rolling of the Penguins being primed to lose that uniqueness about them that was so evident during their 2016 Stanley Cup run, but what you have at center is what dictates the way a particular line is going to play not who is the left or right wing.

Scouts I’ve heard from believe the Penguins will feel more short-term pain by Matt Cullen signing with Minnesota than Nick Bonino leaving for Nashville.

“Cullen’s going to be the bigger loss [for them],” an Eastern Conference scout said of the Penguins center situation in losing Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen this summer. “His speed and all the intangibles [from the 4th line center position] gave them that extra dimension and what gets understated is you could plug any style of player on his wing and that line led by Matty would always play the same way.”

“They’re not going to have that,” the scout added.

If the Penguins still had Cullen, you could put Carl Hagelin on left wing and Ryan Reaves on his right wing and you’d have a 4th line that could give you a little bit of everything.

You put Carter Rowney in that spot or Jay McClement and you’re looking at a line that is going to struggle mightily to produce offense and dictate pace and play that had been a staple of how the Penguins play.

Where does McClement fit into the equation?

The McClement PTO is being applauded by Penguin coaches who had a lot of input on the Penguins targeting him for a PTO.

McClement is an awful fit if the Penguins want to continue their trend of having four scoring lines but that’s not what they’re looking for anymore and McClement has a couple attributes coaches love:

Strong ability on faceoffs and great smarts on the PK.

Some can argue that a players ability on the PK should be overrated as even Jim Rutherford has publicly stated this summer it’s a teachable area and the Penguins just won back-to-back Stanley Cups by being very poor in the faceoff circle, 28th in the NHL during the regular season.

However, the Penguins coaching staff and some in upper management see McClement being able to replace some of the attributes/little things the Penguins are going to lose with Matt Cullen gone, a source says, and a primary reason he was eyed as a PTO target.

One source put the percentages Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

Latest Trade/Roster Buzz & League Chatter

— Among potential impact trades, the Penguins have identified more targets who Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"


— Don’t discount a surprise move up the depth chart for Derrick Pouliot?

I’ll believe it when I see it but that talk is slowly brewing outside of Pittsburgh and there’s a few on the inside with the Penguins who actually believe Pouliot’s going to shock a lot of people this camp.

The Penguins feel Pouliot has shored up some mental areas of his game that have hindered him.


— Two things to watch early on in the season.

1. The coaching staff’s usage of Matt Hunwick who Mike Sullivan pushed hard to sign and some around the league believed the signing is tied to Olli Maatta in some way.

2. How married the coaching staff is with Carter Rowney as a regular in the lineup? Rowney was a good story in the post-season but he’s had a pretty small sample in the NHL and there’s much higher offensive upside players gunning for regular roles.

Last season Penguin coaches also felt Rowney was a better winger than center.


— Nothing imminent and very unlikely to happen before the season starts, but league sources continue to contend Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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