The trade deadline has come and gone and members of the organization feel as constructed this could be the best Penguins team in the Ray Shero era.
Penguins GM Ray Shero addressed two primary needs in adding defenseman Jordan Leopold and scoring winger Alexei Ponikarovsky. The Penguins went through a 60 minute practice today at Southpointe in preparation for the New York Rangers Thursday night and all of the buzz was about Ponikarovsky.
The Penguins though will have to wait for Ponikarovsky’s arrival as visa issues will keep Ponikarovsky from arriving into Pittsburgh until Friday at the earliest. The Penguins are hopeful he will play Saturday afternoon against the Dallas Stars.
Head coach Dan Bylsma expects Ponikarovsky to made an immediate impact on the Penguins top two lines.
“He’s a 20-goal scorer, on pace for around 60 points right now, ” Bylsma said. “He’d be the third leading point-getter on our team right now. You’re adding a big body guy who goes to the net. The thing that I liked in watching him play in the past week or so is the way he plays on the defensive side of the puck, as well.
Bylsma added, He’s a guy who plays well there and plays well away from the puck. He’s good in the offensive zone and is good down low. He also has the ability to make a play to his linemates, and that’s what we think we’re getting with Alex coming in.”
Ponikarovsky’s ability to make a play for his linemates is what some scouts say could be beneficial to Evgeni Malkin getting to back to scoring goals at the pace he was in the 2007-2008 season.
The plan is for Bylsma to go with a second line of Ponikarovsky – Malkin – Fedotenko but if Fedotenko doesn’t play with any kind of consistency, Pascal Dupuis and Max Talbot will also be in the hunt.
What Bylsma has at his disposal is options, which is why the many feel the Penguins are in better position for a Cup run than they were the past two seasons.
Shero talks Trade Deadline
Penguins general manager Ray Shero held a press conference today at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the Penguins newest additions.
Shero talked extensively how it is his job to put the Penguins in the best position to win a Stanley Cup and that played a factor in the Penguins giving up a prospect in Luca Caputi that they didn’t want to.
The Penguins got several inquiries on Alex Goligoski but there were never any kind of serious trade discussions.
Shero praised ownership for giving him the ability to make the needed moves to improve his hockey club, dating back to the Hossa trade in 2008.
Healthy competition was a common phrase coming out of the Penguins locker room today as the Penguins added depth upfront and on their blueline.
Defenseman Jay McKee is not happy about being the No. 7 defenseman but McKee is a first class guy and there won’t be any issues. He was hopeful for a trade if there was an opportunity for a top-6 spot with a contender but McKee will be professional about his demotion and just keep working to get back into the lineup.