The Pittsburgh Penguins head into tonights game against the New Jersey Devils with their prized position for the first time this season; ‘Evgeni Malkin’. Haven’t the Devils seen this before? Last season the Devils opened up against the Penguins in Sidney Crosby’s debut and this season they get Malkin. Evgeni is going to drastically improve this team but how much is uncertain. The Penalty Kill is upgraded but the Penguins lack top 6 wingers to play with their two young stars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
One player Ray Shero should have had on his radar was Petr Skyora who was left on the free agent market until late August. Skyora has underachieved the past few seasons but has the speed and goal scoring ability to have a fountain of youth in the new NHL. Instead Shero set his sights on bringing back Mark Recchi and pursuing Anson Carter who would later sign on with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Petr Skyora stressed all along in free agency that he wanted to play for a eastern conference team. Where were the Penguins? Skorya played on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Patrick Elias during the lockout season in Russia and Skyora netted 18 goals. The two had good chemistry and were close friends off the ice. Skorya would sign with the Edmonton Oilers ( 1yr – 1.5 million). Off to a fast start Skyora leads the Oilers in scoring ( 4goals – 4 assists – 8pts). Ray Shero has done a solid job upgraded the Penguins but the blunder of not taking a chance on a player like Skyora who played with Malkin could result in a 5th straight season without reaching the post-season.
Patrick Elias on Evgeni Malkin from New Jersey Newspaper: “For his size, he’s got unbelievable hands. He has great hockey sense. I was playing with him and [Sykora] and every time the other team started getting more physical, he was right in there. He never backed off. That was a good sign for him. He has a great scoring touch. He’s a great playmaker, a great skater. He’s got talent.”