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Who Should Phil Kessel Play With?

July 3, 2015, 8:14 AM ET [275 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Who should Phil Kessel play with in Pittsburgh? It is a simple question and isn't really a wrong answer. He would be great with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.

That said, Sidney Crosby is the odds on favorite to start with Phil Kessel. They both have amazing speed and the thought of one of the league's best setup man feeding a true sniper is a scary thought. Phil Kessel has never scored 40 goals, but a full year with Crosby has a great chance of changing that.

The top two right wing spots in the Penguins top six are spoken for between Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist. These are two players that do not play the left wing.

So if Phil Kessel is with Sidney Crosby that leaves Patric Hornqvist with Evgeni Malkin. For some reason there is a narrative that exists saying that Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist don't play well together. This is false and should be discarded.

Here are some facts:

I put the ice time Hornqvist spent with each of the two players above the bars. Obviously Sidney Crosby had a larger sample with Patric Hornqvist than Malkin did but you can see how ludicrous it is so suggest that Malkin and Hornqvist don't play well together.
Hornqvist has great numbers with either player.

Those were the possession numbers and here are the numbers for Hornqvist on the goal generation front:

Patric Hornqvist Goals For per 60
With Crosby 3.61
With Malkin 4.05

Both numbers are tremendous but once again you see the myth about Hornqvist not playing well with Malkin

Here is how I see things shaking out with Kessel on the Crosby line


That top line is loaded with skill. Yes David Perron tailed off at the end of the year in the goal scoring department, but I'm willing to wager that playing with two skilled speedsters will make those droughts fewer and far between.

Those question marks represent a battle between Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Sergei Plotnikov and Beau Bennett. I still think the Penguins should play with some house money and sign Alexander Semin. He has played left wing at times during his career.

No matter how the left wing spot on Malkin's line shakes out we know at least one thing, Geno and Hornqvist play just fine together regardless of what some people say.

Thanks for reading!

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