QUESTION: With the addition of Darryl Sydor, Petr Sykora, and Dany Sabourin, what do you think the lines with look like? Also, do you think it will be possible for Angelo Esposito to make the team out of training camp now that Sydor and Sykora were signed?-Nate in Stoneboro, PA
|Angelo Esposito/Getty Images |
First up, it's going to be difficult for Esposito to make the Penguins' roster this season. He has junior eligibility remaining, so he must play back in Quebec or with the Penguins; the AHL is not an option. He's not coming off a bad season, but nonetheless is coming off a season that was not as successful as he would have liked. With the Penguins well-stocked at center, it's always possible he could play the wing, but the NHL is not the easiest place to be while you're learning a new position. Jordan Staal
did it last season, but he looks every bit like the exception, not the rule.
As far as line combinations and roster makeup, its always fun to make guesses about what they might look like on opening night (barring injuries). Plenty of things will happen between now and then to affect the way it all shakes out, and I believe two key players will be critical in determining the final shape of the forward lines: Erik Christensen and Jonathan Filewich. The Penguins must also decide if they want to use Talbot as a third-line center or a fourth-liner. At any rate, here are my guesses:
|Roberts/Recchi ||Crosby ||Sykora |
|Staal ||Malkin ||Recchi/Filewich |
|Malone/Roberts ||Stone/Christensen/Brent ||Armstrong |
|Ruutu ||Talbot ||Laraque |
| || || |
|Gonchar ||Eaton || |
|Sydor ||Letang || |
|Orpik ||Whitney || |
|Scuderi || || |
| || || |
| || |
Better yet, send in your best guesses and we'll publish a few.QUESTION: At this point, is there any plan in place at all for restocking the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins? I've read of a lot of their players being signed elsewhere (Dupont, Carkner, Schaefer, Brookbank, etc) and this season the won't have the Edmonton prospects to bolster the line up. -Mel in Sharpsville, PABOB GROVE:
The players you mention have all spread out across the NHL, with Dupont going to St. Louis, Carkner to Ottawa, Schaefer to Minnesota and Brookbank to Carolina. But the Penguins have plenty of players available for possible AHL duty in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Among the players under contract to the Penguins who could end up with the Baby Pens to start the season are Jonathan Filewich, Ryan Stone, Tyler Kennedy
, Ryan Lannon (if signed as expected), Tim Brent, Aaron Boogaard, Jonathan D'Aversa, Tim Wallace, Connor James, Mark Letestu, Paul Bissonnette, Joe Jensen, Daniel Fernholm and David Brown. The Baby Penguins have signed three other players to AHL contracts: Kurtis McLean, Kyle Rank and Ben Lovejoy
. That's 17 players right there, with a few more likely to follow this summer.
Because the Baby Penguins will not be taking any Edmonton players onto their roster this season (the Oilers will operate their own farm team in Springfield), it's up to Pittsburgh (and the Baby Pens) to fill the entire roster. It won't be a problem.QUESTION: Is Jarkko Ruutu still under contract, and if so for how long?-Paula in Butler, PABOB GROVE:
Jarkko Ruutu is already under contract. He signed a two-year, $2.3 million deal last summer and will be back with the Penguins barring a trade.QUESTION: What role is forward Tim Brent going to play on this team? Also, is the status of Max Talbot and Josef Melichar?-Murray in Pembroke, ONBOB GROVE:
Tim Brent, the 6-0, 188-pound center acquired from Anaheim for Stephen Dixon on the second day of the 2007 Entry Draft, will be trying to make the team as a third- or fourth-line center. First, however, Brent has to be signed by the Penguins. He earned $574,000 last season under a two-way contract with the Ducks and is now a restricted free agent. Penguins' assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher is familiar with him, having come to Pittsburgh from the Ducks, who drafted Brent twice -- first in 2002 and then, after being unable to sign him, again in 2004.
Brent had one goal in 15 games with the Ducks last season, playing just under seven minutes per game and winning almost 49 percent of his draws. He did not play in the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs. Brent played primarily with Anaheim's AHL affiliate in Portland last season, scoring 16 goals and 30 points in 48 games.
As far as Talbot goes, Max signed a two-year contract with the Penguins Thursday for $1.35 million. Given his competitive nature and penalty-killing abilities, he should remain an important part of the Penguins' forward group.
Melichar is an unrestricted free agent and is not expected to re-sign with Pittsburgh.QUESTION: Since everyone on the ice has to stay on the ice after an icing call, what happens if the team who got the call has pulled their goalie? Do they get to put the goalie back in or do they have to take the faceoff without him in the net?-Jane in ApolloBOB GROVE:
Rule 81.4 specifically allows a team to put its goaltender back into the net in these circumstances.Crash the Net is a weekly web Q&A on pittsburghpenguins.com. Click here to submit a question.