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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Ziggy Palffy has been on the NHL’s most-dangerous forwards in the past decade.

Put him on a star-studded Pittsburgh Penguins team and in a new NHL environment that promotes offense and who knows how dangerous he can be?

Nobody more than Palffy is eager to see what he can do in the new NHL.

“I think everybody has to be excited,” he said. “We are back right now after a year and ready to play hockey. We’re ready to drop the puck.”

When the puck drops on the Penguins’ season Oct. 5 in New Jersey, it will mark the beginning of a new NHL era. The NHL’s rules changes include tag-up offsides, elimination of the red line for two-line passes, an increased attacking zone and smaller goalie equipment – all implemented to spark goal production and offensive creativity.

Despite his excitement about the offensive possibilities, Palffy knows defensive play must be magnified to counteract the changes.

“I played in Europe with (similar rules) all the time. It’s a pretty easy game,” he said. “We have to play very good defense. Without the red line, you can pass over two lines and it’s going to be faster.”

Palffy’s 306 goals since 1995-96 rank him 6th among active NHL players in that time span. Coincidentally, he is tied with new teammate John LeClair and Colorado’s Joe Sakic. Palffy is pretty excited to see LeClair and all the other free agents the Penguins signed in the offseason including Sergei Gonchar, Andre Roy, Steve Poapst, and Lyle Odelein as well as 2004 signees Mark Recchi and Ryan VandenBussche in addition to stalwarts Mario Lemieux, Ryan Malone and others.

“I was following the Penguins after they signed me and they signed very good guys – the top players in the NHL,” Palffy said. “It’s going to be fun and exciting to play this year.”

Palffy, 33, has played in three NHL All-Star Games (1998, 2001, 2002). In 642 career NHL games with the New York Islanders and Los Angeles Kings, Palffy has recorded 318 goals and 353 assists for 671 points. The 5-10, 183-pound native of Slovakia has topped the 30-goal mark six times and the 40-goal mark three times in his NHL career.

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