Those close to Evgeni Malkin tell me the Penguins star center is preparing for a potential move to wing once training camp opens on September 18th. Malkin has been told by the Penguins coaching staff to expect a position switch to some extent and the 2008-2009 NHL points leader is open to playing wing.
Some inside the organization believe a move to wing will bring out Malkin’s goal scoring potential and get him back to being a 45+ goal scorer. He is still viewed as being the best pure goal scorer on the team
Top prospect Eric Tangradi is having a strong development camp and appears to be on the cusp of being NHL ready. There is a vibe that the Penguins want Tangradi to spend a month or two in Wilkes Barre but the team is expected to go into training camp with an open mind regarding Tangradi’s chances of making the opening day roster.
Expectations are for Tangradi to play a prominent role alongside Sidney Crosby long-term but for the short-term, team evaluators see him as a perfect fit on a line with Jordan Staal to begin his NHL career.
If possible, adding a veteran third line center via free agency remains a top priority for the Penguins. For the time being, the team has shown little interest in Jeff Halpern and Dominic Moore but remain in the mix for one particular third line center.
League sources tell me the Penguins remain engaged in discussions with Kurt Overhardt the agent for free agent center Brendan Morrison. At the right price, the Penguins are interested in bringing the 34 year old center on board.
Morrison has been involved in talks with 4-to-5 teams and will trim his list of suitors by early next week we’re told.
Morrison has spoken with former teammate and close friend Matt Cooke on what it’s like to play in Pittsburgh, sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
However, it is not clear if Pittsburgh is considered a favorite for Morrison or if Morrison has any intention to push forward in talks and come to Pittsburgh on a lower salary.
The Penguins have $3.492 million in cap space but that is only counting the 11 forwards, 5 defensemen and 2 goaltenders they have on one-way contracts.
The team has all intentions of moving Jordan Staal up to a second line center role but the team has concerns about who will fill Staal’s role as a third line center.
Morrison made $1.5 million last season. Pittsburgh is looking to only spend $1-to-$1.25 million per season on a free agent forward.
Morrison spent only one season in Washington and finished the season with 12 goals and 30 assists in 74 games.
He had a strong first half of the season but struggled in the second half for the Capitals which prompted them not to resign the veteran.
In playoffs he had a 61.1 face off percentage and was above 50% in the regular season.
Today will conclude the final day of the Penguins development camp. A scrimmage is scheduled at 3:00 p.m.