2nd LINE WINGER OPTIONS
Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports
With Jordan Staal back into the mix, time is on the Penguins side to evaluate the best option or options alongside Staal and Evgeni Malkin on the second line.
The 2011 trade deadline is not until February 28th, and Pens management gets a good six weeks to evaluate their team (healthy) and whether they will need go on their annual rent a winger search for their second line or an upgrade with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz on the top line.
Matt Cooke got the first look Saturday night alongside Staal and Malkin against the Washington Capitals and will get more of an extended look at somepoint but Bylsma is already tinkering with other options.
Although there are still two more skates before Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bylsma gave Tyler Kennedy a look on the 2nd line in today’s practice and Kennedy skated with Malkin and Staal for a few shifts Saturday night.
It’s possible that Kennedy will skate on the 2nd line against Tampa Bay.
“He adds a disruption factor and a speed factor to a line that other guys on our team don’t match, ” Bylsma said. “He has speed on the forecheck, chasing pucks down, tenacity wise pursuing the puck…. He’s the F1, and he has pursuit. His tenacity on pucks, and going to the net would be big factor for that line.”
One player not to rule out potentially becoming fit with Staal and Malkin later in the season is Eric Tangradi. Although observers indicate he’s still not ready for a full-time callup, he could be by March or April.
**The Penguins locked up Deryk Engelland to a three year extension this morning and the deal happened very quickly as the Penguins approached Engelland’s camp just before Christmas.
For a player whose been a career minor leaguer, it’s hard to risk not taking a guaranteed multi-year deal even if the money is lower than what he could get on the open market.
The Penguins offered term and a guaranteed contract in return for a low cap hit and they now have a player in Engelland who team feels still hasn’t peaked defensively and is the perfect kind of No. 6 and No. 7 defenseman.
“It’s nice for a lot of reasons, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Deryk is a guy that came from the East Coast Hockey League and has been battling and working to get better. He’s been in our organization a long time doing that and and he did the hard way. This year…. he earned a regular spot on our lineup in the National Hockey League. It’s great for him, and it’s great for us to have him locked up for three years.”
**Sidney Crosby said today he feels that Capitals center David Steckel possibly went out of his way to hit him late in the second period of Saturday’s game. Crosby took a shot to the head on the hit but was okay. Bylsma called it more of incidental contact on Saturday.
Penguins center Jordan Staal remains all smiles after appearing in his first game Saturday night. Wednesday night against Tampa Bay will be his first game at the Consol Energy Center.
“It was definitely the start of a new year for me…. quite literally, ” Staal said after practice today. “It was nice to get that first game in and get back to a routine of practicing with the guys and playing some games… It’s a very exciting time.”
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