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Penguins getting closer to the 2015-16 approach

November 1, 2019, 12:36 PM ET [137 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
We have our first look at the lines with Evgeni Malkin since the first game of the season and they look like this:

The top line remains intact as they should for the present time. There isn’t much to add about the first line. We know how they operate and what they bring to the table.

The second line has the Galchenyuk-Malkin duo many people were expecting throughout the summer. They will be given a chance to find some chemistry. This is one of those things the Penguins are relying on working given they effectively traded Phil Kessel away with the intent of Galchenyuk picking up the slack. Galchenyuk has been hurt and the few games he’s played have been underwhelming for the most part. The sample obviously does not include Evgeni Malkin which is a huge distinction. We need to see more minutes.

I like Patric Hornqvist here on the right side to start. He may handle the puck like he is wearing oven mitts, but he is defensively responsible and could clean up some of the garbage in front that Malkin creates. Hornqvist could also do well to get away from Jared McCann. The early returns together aren’t great for Hornqvist as he only has a CF% 43.01. If Hornqvist can give some top six minutes it would really help things out.

The third line seems to have Nick Bjugstad and Bryan Rust set and the decision on left wing hasn’t been made yet. It’s between Dominik Kahun who has played well recently and Jared McCann who has played similarly well. The forward depth is the strength of this team and now that everyone is healthy it might be difficult to get everybody minutes. Some of these depth players, like Rust, make a decent amount of money. Pittsburgh might want to use the Gudbranson cap savings along with the cap relief of trading another player to get more of an impact player.

Brandon Tanev on the fourth line is quite the luxury. He’s been good and if you can roll four competent lines we are closer to the 2015-16 path than the team has been in a while. Zach Aston-Reese has had a good start to the year and would definitely be part of a strong fourth line. Given the predicament of the third line I would bump Teddy Blueger to the press box for the time being and let Jared McCann center the fourth line. Mike Sullivan could confidently roll four lines and start to wear teams down again.

The top four defense is what it should be. The bottom pairing is what it is for the time being. At least it is ~3M cheaper than it was.

Thanks for reading!
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