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Tanev excited for new opportunity with the Penguins

by Mark Madden / 105.9 the X

Brandon Tanev skating on Sidney Crosby's line evokes memories of Chris Kunitz: Physical, effective below the hash marks.

Tanev skating on Evgeni Malkin's line evokes memories of Carl Hagelin: Lightning-fast forecheck, responsible in both ends.

But all Tanev can be is Brandon Tanev, and that figures to be plenty good.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Toronto native was a premiere bottom-six winger during his Winnipeg tenure (2015-19). But after signing with the Penguins as a free agent on July 1, Tanev came to training camp and worked at right wing with both Crosby and Malkin.

If recent practices are any indication, Tanev will open the 2019-20 campaign skating with Crosby and Jake Guentzel.

"It's been exciting to get out there, finally put the Penguins jersey on, and play with two great players that have been amazing players in this league for a long time," Tanev said. "It's nice to go out there and learn bits and pieces of the game from those guys."

Tanev's career high in goals is 14, set last year with the Jets. But he never had Crosby or Malkin as a center before.

Tanev on Crosby: "He's such an unbelievable player. You work hard and try to get that puck and put yourself in certain positions. When you have a guy as skilled and gifted as he is at seeing the ice, you want to read off him and find some open ice, because he'll get you the puck. Hopefully you capitalize on some chances."

Tanev on Malkin: "He's a great skater with great vision. Definitely very talented and skilled. With him, you also want to find some ice and work hard to get that puck. 

"If you have the opportunity to get those guys a great scoring chance, it's most likely going to be in the back of the net."

Tanev, 27, played against both Penguins stars while he was a member of the Jets. Those meetings occasionally got heated.

"Anytime you play against some of the other team's top lines, you want to work hard and be tough for them to play against," Tanev said. "You want to be a little more physical, work hard to get loose pucks and hold onto the puck. If you hold onto the puck, you make the game a little more difficult for them in their defensive end."

Tanev has mostly played left wing. But he doesn't see moving to the other side as very difficult.

"I played a decent amount of right wing last year," Tanev noted. "It's putting yourself in the right positions and seeing the ice a little differently."

If Tanev is surprised by the opportunity to play in the Penguins' top six, he doesn't show it.

"You're always excited for the opportunity," Tanev said. "I'm grateful to get a chance to play alongside Sid and Geno at training camp. You just come in, you're excited to work, and you're hungry for the start of the season. You have a great training camp, and you build chemistry and confidence with your teammates."

Tanev played 195 games with Winnipeg, collecting 24 goals, 27 assists and a plus-17 mark.

Prior to turning pro, he played four seasons of NCAA Division I hockey with Providence College. He scored the game-winning goal in the 2015 NCAA final to give the Friars their first-ever national championship.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).

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