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The Penguins received some strong performances from some of their centermen last night and neither were named Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
Brandon Sutter scored twice, including the game winner in overtime and Oskar Sundqvist scored his first goal with the big club in a continuing effort to impress Coach Mike Johnston.
Sundqvist’s play has been encouraging so far. If he becomes an NHL caliber player in the near future that will provide Jim Rutherford with some options if he so chooses.
Brandon Sutter is going to have better numbers this year. He is going to have better linemates. I’m still not sold on the 3.3M value he brings with Goc already on the team. It isn’t a knock on Sutter the player as much as it is a knock on Sutter the cap value.
I have no hesitations about moving Sutter and letting Marcel Goc play third line center. This is about asset management. It is about maximizing cap value. If you make good moves managing assets you don’t have to play tweeners with Crosby and Malkin.
Chances are Oscar Sundqvist will not make the team out of camp. I would be very surprised by that. What he can do is play great in WB/S, enough so that the brass cannot ignore it. If he could prove to be a competent fourth line player by the time February/March rolls around you could potentially dangle Brandon Sutter on the market. Given how well Simon Despres, Brian Dumoulin, and Scott Harrington have been playing you also could have the option of packaging one of them with Sutter to improve the market value of a potential trade. There are only so many spots for defense in Pittsburgh, I believe they can trade one of those three away in order to better the hockey team.
Beau Bennett has been great. Skating looks great, decision making looks great, and his shot should be much better this year. He is a top six player. He won’t start there and that’s OK, but he will finish the season there. Like it or lump it Pascal Dupuis is going to get his shot up on the Crosby line to start the year.
If Bennett’s caliber of play can be this solid with Brandon Sutter it can certainly be solid with Crosby. Personally I don’t like the prospect of a guy like Nick Spaling or Blake Comeau playing up on the Malkin line. That isn’t going to cut it. By getting Bennett up on the Crosby line on his proper right wing you can then move Dupuis to the left side with Malkin.
I would love a situation where Dupuis is a 3rd line player, but the Penguins aren’t in that situation right now. Perhaps that situation will change via trade in the future.
Basically to make a long story short Oskar Sundqvist could potentially alter the landscape for Jim Rutherford and make his job much easier by giving him options. Rutherford has said he will explore a trade at some point. To make effective trades as a team vying for the Cup you need to have assets that you can trade which won’t crush the current product, he could have just that if Sundqvist proves himself.
has a very nice article that takes an anatomical look at Jordan Staal's injury and his potential recovery here
Thanks for reading!
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