Once Branden Sutter is signed the Pittsburgh Penguins will have their lines set at the Center position. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Branden Sutter and Marcel Goc will provide depth down the middle very few teams can match and hopefully once they have become acclimated to the new system being installed, will drive a once again lethal offensive charge. Outside of Chris Kunitz flanking Sid’s port side, the rest of the forward combinations are up for grabs. Will Duper be healthy enough to play the top line RW or will Beau Bennett be given the chance to fulfill his potential? Will Patric Hornqvist play there, or with Geno? Which side will he patrol?
How about Steve Downie? Will he play his off wing on the second line, bump Dupuis down to offer protection to Sid or add to the physicality of the third line? Can Nick Spaling put up better possession numbers with the centers in the bottom six or even dislodge another player and provide a Max Talbot type presence on the second line? Where does all of this leave Jason Megna who played well throughout the lineup last season and earned a new contract? He has the size and speed but not the finishing touch of a top six forward but has he reached his ceiling?
Then throw in the curve ball that is Kasperi Kapanen who has the tools needed to keep up with any of the aforementioned centers but is better suited for top six minutes. Outside of a serious injury bug, please no, Craig Adams and Blake Comeau are going to play on the fourth line with Goc which will hopefully make that line more effective than it has been in years. Forgetting double K, there are 13 forwards listed for 12 spots and that does not even sniff the organizational depth. Adam Pareyl, Zach Sill and Dominick Uher are all possible options in the bottom six because of the size and skill they have.
Andrew Ebbett is an undersized veteran who played well with Branden Sutter last year so I would imagine if there are injuries in the lower lines this year, he would get the first nod which helps the team stay competitive but prevents development of the better than advertised forward prospects.
Coach Johnston has his work cut out for him but he has the pieces needed to make the engine go. I would like to see Craig Adams phased out since he was not complianced and give every player a chance to play in his spot. After ext year the Pens will only have six forwards under contract, up to eight depending on what Sutter and Spaling sign so there will be spots open throughout the lineup. It is time to see what they can do since next season might very well be the last with this GM.