BREAKING DOWN THE PENGUINS FORWARD GROUP
*= players on 1-way contracts*
NHL DEPTH CHART
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Matt D’agostini – Brandon Sutter – Beau Bennett
Tanner Glass – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Burning Questions: Who emerges as the best fit on Evgeni Malkin’s left wing? – Jussi Jokinen and Beau Bennett are the two ideal fits and there’s talk of Matt D’agostini being likely to get a few looks with Malkin and Neal during camp. Jokinen showed last season that he has to play with skilled players and his ability to also take draws makes him the leading candidate to play with Neal and Malkin. The coaching staff likes Beau Bennett’s all around game to fit well on the third line with Brandon Sutter
Roster Analysis: The Penguins go to camp with 13 forwards set to make the NHL club. The team will start the season with 13 or 14 forwards, so barring no movement among the 12 forwards on 1-way deals, there is one spot up for grabs.
Harry Zolnierczyk will go into camp as a front runner for the final roster spot if the Penguins carry 14 forwards. The Penguins like the physicality he brings to the table and his skating ability. The next group of four to five players who will get some consideration for NHL time this season:
Andrew Ebbett – Appeared in 28 games for the Canucks last season. Smallish player at 5-9. Had 1 goal and 6 points for the Canucks in 2013. 11 Goals and 32 points in 37 games for the Chicago Wolves.
Zach Sill – Reminds the Penguins of Joe Vitale but has better size and is more defensively responsible.
Tom Kostopoulos – Veteran forward appeared in 15 games with the Devils last season. Ha 3 goals and 7 points in 17 games for Wilkes Barre. He comes to camp on an AHL contract.
Chris Conner – Bylsma will find a way to get Conner on the NHL roster at somepoint this season
Nick Drazenovic – Appeared in 8 games with the Blue Jackets last season. Had 53 points in 62 games for Springfield.
Adam Payerl – Penguin officials feel Payerl could have an NHL future and possibly be in line for a full-time role by next season. He has great size and a great motor to play a power forward type game on the bottom two-lines. Don’t look for him to make the team out of camp as he wouldn’t be a regular but very interested to see how he fares going up against NHL players.
Top forward Prospects Invited to Camp: Adam Payerl, Paul Thompson, Tom Kuhnhackl, Jason Megna, Matia Marcantuoni.