Western Conference teams scouting Fehr?
The expected return of Chris Kunitz tonight will see Tom Kuhnhackl come out of the lineup and Jake Guentzel remain in the press box.
Kunitz as expected will go right back into his second line role with Evgeni Malkin.
Prior to his injury, Kunitz had 9 points in his last 11 games. While his goal scoring ability is no longer of a top-6 winger, Kunitz still thinks the game so well and the little things he provides with zone entries and keeping plays alive remain strongly valued by this coaching staff.
Kunitz is still one of the Penguins best nine forwards.
The more pressing issue is the Penguins dressing the best 12 forwards as Pittsburgh’s depth scoring has not been good this season.
Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, Eric Fehr, Tom Kuhnhackl, Scott Wilson have combined for 11 goals in 111 total games combined between the five. Jake Guentzel has 3 goals in five games.
With Bonino and Hagelin not producing like they did in the post-season, the Penguins are still not maximizing Matt Cullen who right now is a better offensive player than Bonino.
This lineup could become a lot more dangerous by putting more skill around Cullen. Eric Fehr just isn’t a good match to providing that.
With Guentzel looking out of the picture in top-6 for now with Kunitz back, there’s still a fit with Cullen there that wouldn’t hurt his development. Whether it happens remains to be seen.
— There continues to be push back from sources [hide] in the organization of some increasing talk outside of Pittsburgh in the last couple days that the Penguins are actively trying to shop Eric Fehr. They see value in him as mentioned before.
However, league sources say teams, notably in the West have been tracking Fehr in the last couple weeks and opportunities are there to move him which could mean Pittsburgh is actually showcasing him despite the denials privately.
Indications are Minnesota’s interest in Fehr is still there.
— The Penguins plan this season has been to keep Oskar Sundqvist in Wilkes Barre all season and give him one more full season to develop there. However, a few scouts believe he could help this hockey team down the stretch.
“He’s learning to use his size and looks stronger,” a scout said of an improvement for Sundqvist. “Billy [Guerin] has taken him under his wing and it’s paid dividends for him. Much better play along the wall and he’s protecting the puck like a young player should with his size to play at the next level.”
Sundqvist has been much better offensively so far this season in Wilkes Barre than the Penguins anticipated. He has 6 goals and 15 points in 17 games.
Scout on Dominik Simon whose production has dipped with 3 goals in 16 games.
“Playing with less talent [this season than last] is certainly a number one factor.”
— Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal for Penguins tonight. Penguins coached have wanted to map out some home starts for Fleury and through one game it worked with Fleury having a strong start vs the Stars.
While there is all this talk about management/ownership fixated on keeping Fleury happy because of how loved he is, some close to the situation have also had concerns that the two-goalie system could mess with Murray’s development.
Something to watch over the next month or so if Fleury starts stealing games from Murray.