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Crash The Net - Pens Q&A

by Bob Grove / Pittsburgh Penguins
QUESTION: Why aren't the Penguins preseason games being televised this season?
-Glenn in Pittsburgh

BOB GROVE: As they did for last Saturday's home preseason game against Detroit, the Penguins will stream live audio and video of this Friday's home preseason game against Buffalo on Mike Lange and Phil Bourque will call all the action, so all you need is your computer.

As far as televising preseason games, it's not solely up to the Penguins. They must have a TV partner willing to undertake such programming.

QUESTION: How did Kris Letang last until the third round of the draft if he is such a good prospect?

-Riley in Pittsburgh, PA

Kris Letang
Draft position generally gives you a good idea of a player's potential. It will never be an absolute predictor of success, and countless examples can be provided by just a cursory glance at the history of the NHL Entry Draft. You'll find plenty of first-round picks who never became NHL regulars -- some that never even played a single game -- and late-round picks who became stars.

Letang was a third-round pick in 2005, and that's not considered a late pick. At that point in his career, Letang had played one season of junior hockey in Val d'Or and had displayed good offensive instincts. He was talented enough at that point to make Canada's entry in the World Junior Under-18 Championships. But I think it's fair to say the Letang's development took off at that point, as he doubled his offensive output in his sophomore QMJHL season despite playing in 10 fewer games and made Canada's World Junior Championship team. Last season, of course, he not only played seven games with the Penguins but captained Team Canada to another WJC gold medal.

Letang's development over the past two seasons hasn't been completely unexpected, but Pittsburgh scouts should be credited with landing a player of his ability -- and leadership potential -- with the 62nd overall pick.

Although widely expected to do so, Letang may not make Pittsburgh's opening-night roster. To date, his performance in camp and preseason games hasn't locked up a spot with two games remaining. Should Letang be assigned to Wilkes-Barre, it will be surprising -- but not the end of the world. If he keeps his head together, goes to the AHL and plays well, he is almost certain to be recalled when coach Michel Therrien needs help on defense.

QUESTION: My husband and I are from Alaska and our son played with Ty Conklin on the Alaska All-Star Hockey Team. Do you expect Ty to get much ice time this year with the Penguins?
-Charlene in Calgary, AB

Ty Conklin
Ty Conklin was assigned to Wilkes-Barre of the AHL on Sept. 22 and is expected to be the Baby Penguins' No. 1 goaltender. The 31-year-old from Eagle River, Alaska played 16 games with Columbus and Buffalo last season and has 76 NHL games to his credit. Conklin's best season came in 2003-04 with Edmonton, when he compiled a 2.42 goals-against average in 38 games and later represented the U.S. in the World Championships.

Conklin provides depth for the Penguins at a spot where they don't have a lot of experience, and he will almost certainly be recalled anytime Marc-Andre Fleury or Dany Sabourin are unable to play due to injury.

QUESTION: I read in our local paper that Joe Rullier was an invite to the Penguins camp, What the chances were of him getting signed and sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton?
-Justin in Wilkes-Barre, PA

BOB GROVE: Joe Rullier, a Montreal native who has been playing in the AHL since 2000, was assigned to Wilkes-Barre Sept. 22. He was invited to the Penguins' camp on a tryout basis.

QUESTION: With all the free agents signings this year I didn't happen to see if Josef Melichar signed with anyone. Did he wind up signing to play overseas?
-Kevin in Allen Park, MI

BOB GROVE: Josef Melichar was an unrestricted free agent this summer and did not sign with any NHL teams. He will play this season for his hometown Ceske-Budejovice team in the Czech Elite League.

QUESTION: Will Adam Hall get a contract with the Pens?  I have not seen him in action as of yet, but his historical stats, and his performance in Tuesday's game in Montreal, make me believe that he is a good bet to make the team.
-Bob in Pittsburgh, PA

BOB GROVE: Adam Hall was a late addition to the Penguins' training camp roster on a tryout contract, and the 6-3, 206-pound right wing from Kalamazoo has a decent chance of sticking. He plays a simple, physical game, is good along the boards, can kill penalties and can score some goals; he scored 13 or more in three consecutive seasons with Nashville, which at that point happened to have an assistant general manager by the name of Ray Shero.

Hall was traded by the Predators to the Rangers last July, then traded to Minnesota last February. It was surprising to see him unsigned in September after earning $975,000 last season, but that could wind up benefiting the Penguins. If Pittsburgh wants to keep him, most likely to use him on the fourth line, he must be signed first.
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