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Insider Only Pens Notes: Malkin, Kennedy, Defensive Depth, Power Play & more

Friday Morning’s Pens Notes
While driving into the office this morning, heard Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma on 93.7 The Fan. Here are some tidbits from Bylsma’s interview with the The Fan morning show…
On Evgeni Malkin: Bylsma said reports coming back to him is that Malkin continues to workout extremely hard and believes he will be in the best shape of his career for camp.
Bylsma even mentioned he got a call from Sergei Gonchar recently who said he’s never seen Malkin in this type of shape and working out as hard.
Bylsma also confirmed that Malkin could have returned in the playoffs. Bylsma said at the time of the injury, initial diagnosis from doctors is that Malkin’s rehab would have went just a few days after the Cup Finals but as it’s been noted in the past, the surgery was not as severe as doctors thought it was going to be.
Bylsma said he believes Malkin might have been able to return as early as the late second round/early third round. Bylsma expressed confidence Malkin would have played if the team reached the Finals.

On Tyler Kennedy: Bylsma said if the team is able to resign Tyler Kennedy, he see’s his minutes in the 16-to-17 minute range with some power play time sprinkled in. However, Bylsma just like everyone else in the organization, dodges questions whether Kennedy’s a top-6 winger when Crosby, Malkin are back.
Bylsma said he wouldn’t have a problem with Kennedy playing on the third line with for example, Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal, who Bylsma called the best third line in hockey.
Three Center Model: Just like he did in the exit interviews, Bylsma hinted at wanting to use different combinations in his top-6, like the Tampa Bay Lightning do. He said when he looks at his board he see’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as the top-2 centerman but Crosby, Malkin and Jordan Staal are his top-3 forwards, Bylsma said.
Therefore, he said Malkin and Staal will play together at times.
All indications are Malkin will start the season on the wing but the belief is that the Penguins will eventually go back to the three-center model.
Defensive Depth: Bylsma said they will let things play out regarding their top-7, including top prospect Simone Despres. Bylsma said they will do what’s best for Despres and mentioned Despres being able to play considerable minutes in the AHL.
The thinking here is that the Penguins want Despres to get at least a half season in the minors, getting top pairing minutes.
Bylsma also mentioned prospects Robert Bortuzzo and Brian Strait. Bortuzzo has a much higher ceiling.
Power Play: Bylsma said a focus for the staff this season is coming up with different sets and what they are looking to accomplish is incorporate movement motion and try to be unpredictable.
This was not mentioned in the interview but the Penguins are not expected to hire a power play consultant.
Mike Yeo: Bylsma called Mike Yeo a fantastic coach and said he has talked a lot with Mike in the last two months. Bylsma laid out Yeo’s credentials, 12 years of experience, winner of Stanley Cup and has dealt with star players.

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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