The Penguins have so few internal options to step up in a top-6 role with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis that GM Ray Shero struggled to come up with names at the end of Wednesday’s media conference call when asked directly about “Tyler Kennedy and Eric Tangradi” being able to replace Steve Sullivan on the top-2 lines.
“We’re going to have to see, ” Shero said of what internal options might be possibilities to fill that role. “If we don’t feel that hole via free agency or trade, then someone’s going to get the opportunity because we can’t play one short, that’s for sure. We’ve always talked about TK and his ability to maybe move him {up} and maybe it’s his time to do that. But, we’re a ways away from start of season and we’ll have to see what comes our way. In terms of younger players, maybe Beau Bennett in time when he gets his feet wet, ” Shero said.
Despite also being asked directly about Tangradi, Shero gave no mention of him and it’s likely because Shero doesn’t evision him as a realistic top-6 option. Late last season at the NHL level and in the AHL, Tangradi showed signs of finally getting it and learning how to use size to his advantage but he still has showed no signs of having the capabilities to be a top-6 forward as he lacks the foot speed and creative ability to think quick enough with the puck to be a fixture with Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins see him as possibly being a factor on the 4th or maybe even the third line at somepoint, but any reporters writing this summer about Tangradi being a legitimate top-6 option for Crosby should be immediately moved to the Pittsburgh Power beat.
Aside from Tyler Kennedy, one short-term option to move up could be Matt Cooke as the Penguins could then move Tanner Glass or maybe even Tangradi into a third line role with Brandon Sutter. Cooke had 19 goals last season and would provide a Chris Kunitz type gritty performance on Crosby’s wing.

While GM Ray Shero is still aggressively looking to add a top-6 winger and top-2 defensemen, the Penguins see the intrigue of going into the season with a significant amount of cap space. Under the current summer cap of $70.2 million, Pittsburgh has around $10.54 million in cap space.
Things could setup where a number of impact players could become available next season or next summer, including the likes of Corey Perry, Jarome Iginla, Shea Weber, Ryan Getzlaf, Alexandre Burrows, Nathan Horton, Ryane Clowe, and Stephen Weiss, among others, who are all free agents next summer. The two big names are Corey Perry and Shea Weber with Weber likely looking to get out of Nashville. Perry is also not a guarantee to resign in Anaheim at this point.
The Penguins work off the mindset that when they get players here they don’t want to leave, so they would obviously be willing to give up a big return for a Shea Weber or maybe even a Corey Perry if either go on the trade block down the road.