It is now common knowledge that Pittsburgh Penguins centers Evegni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad are hurt “long term”. This obviously puts the Penguins in a pickle. Going from being one of the strongest teams down the middle to now having Sidney Crosby and Teddy Blueger as the only true centers on the roster.
So what do they do next? First thing is they need to put both on Long Term Injury Reserve because if they don’t they dont have any cap room to do anything. Second, they need to decide if Teddy Blueger is good enough to fill in as a third line center? I would say so, he is great on both sides of the rink and decent in the circle. So now you have to replace a second line center and a fourth line center.
So where to find a second line and fourth line center. Let’s go after the easy one first. Patrick Marleau is still unsigned. He would only need a million dollars to play. He still probably has some gas in the tank and could even act as a third line center. So if he fills in on your bottom six then that’s good. Also when the time comes to put Bjugstad or Malkin back into the lineup he can convert to wing.
So now your second line center. Both McCann and Galchenyuk have played center before. But both feature as important wingers in the lineup. However a winger is only as good as his center so what to do.
Is there a world where you can put them both on the second line? McCann playing the center role, but both able to switch in and out as needed? Seems like a silly concept, but one that is not unheard of. In Colorado MacKinnon and Landeskog essentially share duties. They each take faceoff from their favored sides. Landy handles the defensive side of the puck as a centerman while Mac handles the offensive side. I can see this scenario playing out with McCann taking the defensive side of the puck and Galchenyuk taking the offensive side of the puck.
Another thing is to trade for one. Now the only useful asset the Penguins have to trade is Tristan Jarry. The young goaltender was once touted as a great goalie prospect and could be useful to teams in need of solid goaltending. Perhaps a team like San Jose. Would the Sharks give up Joe Thorton for Tristian Jarry? What if you sweeten the pot with a draft pick, which the sharks desperately need?
Another dance partner could be the New Jersey Devils. The Devils have big hopes for this season and there is a real concern that Cory Schneider is not the guy to backstop them to the playoffs. They have a good amount of depth at the position. You won’t be able to pry away Hughes or Hischier but I think Zajac or Coleman are not out of the question.
If I was the Penguins I would try putting McCann and Galchenyuk on the same line before making a trade. If they can wait out Bryan Rust’s injury then you have some more assets to trade. In the meantime my lines would look something like this.
ZAR- Johnson – Bjorkqvist
Time is ticking, what will GM Jim Rutherford do?