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Penguins Update: Evgeni Malkin Has Upper-Body Injury – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Update: Evgeni Malkin Has Upper-Body Injury

And so comes the day of reckoning.

During the off-season, Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen jumped from the Penguins in free agency. From the moment Cullen jumped the buzz around the ‘burgh has been who will be the Penguins third line Center, the Center that would have to step up and fill either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin’s skates should one of them have to miss a hockey game. Well my friends, we are about to find out how the “next man up” will do. Malkin is slated to miss Wednesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks with an upper-body injury.

Last Season, an injury like this would see a seamless shifting of Bonino to second line and Cullen to third line. Using the same strategy, this season, would mean shifting Riley Sheahan up to second line and Greg McKegg who had started the season as the third line Center back up to that position. The biggest problem here is that Carter Rowney is on Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR). Therefore the Penguins only have 3 Centers on their Roster.

At practice today, Jake Guentzel, slid back into the Center role as the third line Center. According to an article on the NHL website, Guentzel playing third line Center against Vancouver is predicated on Rowney not coming off of LTIR. If Rowney comes off of LTIR, the website suggests that Sheahan would move up to 2nd line with McKegg going to 3rd and Rowney taking 4th. I am not all that sure about that. Given Sheahan’s lack of offensive production, I personally would be reluctant to shift him up to 2nd line. I would think that regardless of whether Rowney comes off LTIR, Guentzel moving to 2nd line center is the best “next man up” option for Mike Sullivan; that is if the team is looking to actually try and score goals.

Of course moving Guentzel to Center also presents its own problems. The Penguins are blessed with a lot of talented Forwards, but most of that talent is at Right Wing. Moving Guentzel to Center  deplete the Left Wing spot. Yes, Conor Sheary is scoring goals; he is on pace to score roughly 30 goals this season but he is a defensive nightmare right now; opponents are scoring 4.48 goals/60 minutes of even strength ice time when he is on the ice. Carl Hagelin is the opposite. He is a defensive gem; opponents are only scoring 1.14 goals/60 minutes of even strength ice time, he is on the ice, but then again, the team is only scoring goals at the same rate when he is on the ice. (Data does not include the last game).

Other than that, the Penguins have been manning Left Wing spots with Tom Kuhnhackl, a left handed Winger who, like a lot of European skaters, naturally plays his off wing (Right Wing) and Mr. Utility, Brian Rust, who is a right-handed natural right wing.

Perhaps if Rowney isn’t ready to come off of LTIR, the Penguins could call up Dominic Simon, who is a natural Center, or has played Center for most of his career so far, but who has seen some limited Left Wing duty last year and during preseason this year and who is having himself a pretty good season so far down in Wilkes-Barre Scranton.

According to Cap Friendly, with Rowney on LTIR, the Penguins have a little over $1 million under the Cap to bring him up. Or they could bring up Daniel Sprong. Perhaps the biggest problem the Penguins would face is if either of these kids come up and really produce, what does the team do when healthy?

However, a more interesting long-term thought may be this: I was reading an article a couple of weeks back that suggested that Jim Rutherford is evaluating to see if he needs to make a deal for a legitimate 3rd line Center. This injury may force Rutherford to accelerate his timetable for finding that Center, particularly if this injury to Malkin turns out to be a protracted one. There still are some rumors about Alex Galchenyuk being traded this year, and we are approaching the time of the year when Rutherford historically has made moves. Could the Penguins swing a deal?

Regardless of what happens off of the ice, the one thing that Sullivan’s Penguins always seem to do is step up and be counted in the face of adversity. Let’s hope that Sullivan has some more magic up his sleeve and can add to our Thanksgiving against Vancouver.

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4 Comments

  1. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    November 22, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Hey All,

    Apparently Victor Rask is in the Doghouse in Carolina, so, 2-questions, If you were JR would you;

    1. Trade for Rask, he is a 6’2, 200lbs C who is only 24 and has scored 20 goals in a season (2 yrs ago) n the NHL and twice put up more than 40 onts, (The Last 2 yrs). His career FO% is 50.6%, his Take away to Give away across his short career is positive, taking away the puck 137 times while giving it away 117 times. His Career CORSI is pretty good at 51.6%

    2. If you would trade, who/what would you be willing to give up to get him?

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      November 22, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Hey Other Rick,

      Hmmm. On the surface, Rask appears to be a pretty good fit for what we need. He’s displayed some offensive pedigree at the NHL level, and it sounds like he’s got a decent skill set.

      A couple of things bother me. One, he isn’t rated as a great skater, at least by The Hockey News. While I’d personally rather see us add to our speed rather than detract from it, it isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. After all, Bonino wasn’t especially fast, either.

      Point number two bothers me more. From the little I’ve read, Rask has played more of a perimeter game this year and seems to lack passion. For a Penguins team that seems to be struggling with similar issues, that sure doesn’t sound like a match made in Heaven. If anything, the Pens need a sparkplug kind of guy.

      In terms of who I’d part with? As much as I like Carl Hagelin’s recent play–paucity of production aside–I might be willing to part with him, although Carolina would probably also want a high draft pick and/or reasonably promising prospect to bite.

      The worrisome thread? We’d be shedding speed.

      The other possible trading chip is Conor Sheary. I seem to be squarely in the minority, but I like Sheary and don’t want to part with him. At least not for Rask.

      Rick

  2. Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
    November 21, 2017 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Hey Other Rick,

    Great job of sifting through all of the Pens’ options.

    I’ve been silently dreading this moment since the summer. Given that Geno’s been hurt a lot the past few seasons, you had to figure he’d be spending some time on IR. It was just a matter of when and how long.

    As you so duly noted, instead of sliding Bonino and Cullen into his slot, now we’re looking at Riley Sheahan or Jake Guentzel. While I’m pleased with Sheahan’s overall play–especially of late–I don’t know if he’s capable of filling the void.

    I guess we’re about to find out.

    Back to Malkin…he absorbed a nasty slash to the left forearm in the win over Ottawa and appeared to be in considerable discomfort on the bench. I wonder if that’s when he was hurt.

    He had an injury to his left elbow/forearm a couple of years ago, too.

    Rick

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      November 22, 2017 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      Thanks Rick,

      Sheahan does do somethings well, however, like you I am a doubter as to his ability to fill in for Geno. Sheahan is much better in the FO circle but even at his best he has never been an offensive threat and over the last season and a half he has been nothing short of an afterthought on the score sheet.

      To be fair, he had skated mainly with Hagelin this year and Hagelin has also been rather dry in the scoring department this year too, as I noted above. However, when Sheary moved on to his LW the line did produce a little. If Sheary moves up to 2nd line also, maybe Kessel will still be productive.

      As you say, we are about to find out how the Pens will fare. Under Sullivan, the Pens have found a way to step up in the face of adversity, so I am hoping that they find something deep down in themselves.

      Murray is playing very well, maybe he will find a way to take his game up even higher and the team can win some 1-0 affairs.


            

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