Latest Penguins Buzz

Insider Only Latest Rumblings: If Crosby’s healthy, indications are Malkin to wing for start of next season

DePaoli’s Latest Pens Buzz
Evgeni Malkin has made it known he wants to return to center in a somewhat full-time capacity. However, his wish likely won’t be granted if Sidney Crosby is healthy for training camp and the start of the season.

Rumblings out of the organization this month is that the team remains very intrigued on Malkin playing wing, most notably, the team is said to remain interested in giving an extended look to the Staal-Malkin experiment, something that didn’t get underway last season due to injuries.
One belief at least last season was that moving Malkin to wing would help him get back to being an elite goal scorer, an area he hasn’t maximized his potential.
I was long an advocate of Malkin becoming a full-time winger but Jordan Staal’s not the type of centerman who I see as a good fit with Malkin.
— How far apart are the Penguins and Mike Rupp? Early this week I was told the two sides were around $350,000 apart (if not more) on a base salary. That’s a significant gap for a 4th line player.
Rupp is seeking $1.25 million per season on a two year deal. Meanwhile, the Penguins thinking process is said to be more in the $850,000 – $925,000 range.
I am told rumors of him seeking $1.5 million per season from the Penguins is not accurate.
— Looking at the Penguins roster including players on two-way deals, Eric Tangradi better learn how to play right wing.
Tangradi figures to enter camp far down the Penguins depth chart at left wing:
1. Kunitz
2. Neal
3. Cooke
Even though one of those players could move to right wing, it won’t be Kunitz and likely won’t be Neal.
Here’s how I see the Penguins depth chart setting up right now in the eyes of management, based on talk of Malkin starting season on wing if Crosby is healthy.
Line 1: Kunitz – Crosby – TBD
Line 2: Neal – Staal – Malkin
Line 3: Cooke – Letestu – TBD
Line 4: TBD – Adams (Center or Right Wing) – TBD
Prospects and veterans on two-way deals who will be in the mix to fill roles: Dustin Jeffrey (RFA, Expected to sign but big questionmark to be available for start of season), Nick Johnson, Joe Vitale, Eric Tangradi and Ryan Craig.
UFA’s team hasn’t ruled out signing: Mike Rupp, Pascal Dupuis, Arron Asham, Chris Conner, Max Talbot,
If the three center model goes into place, Mark Letestu becomes a player whose spot in the top-12 suddenly is not set in stone:
Line 1: Kunitz – Crosby – TBD
Line 2: Neal – Malkin – TBD
Line 3: Cooke – Staal – TBD
Line 4: TBD – Letestu (Not ideal 4th liner) – Adams

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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