I am happy the Penguins signed Kris Letang and Pascal Dupuis. The Pens got destroyed by Boston in the Eastern Conference final, yet management seems in love with retaining ALMOST EXACTLY the nucleus of that team.
So be it. Those Penguins lost, but not because they weren’t good enough.
Using Letang should be easy. Letang has a great level of comfort when he partners with Simon Despres. They should have been a tandem all last season. Despres makes Letang responsible, Letang makes Despres better. They’re an obvious pair.
I’m shocked Dupuis got four years. That was obviously the only way to keep him. At worst, he’ll be a very good third-liner for that contract’s last two seasons.
But how should Dupuis get used right now?
If Dupuis moves from right wing to left wing – some can’t switch; Dupuis can, easily – that leaves Dupuis and Chris Kunitz comfortable on the left, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin comfortable in the middle, Beau Bennett and James Neal comfortable on the right. Almost any combination thereof would be potent.
That’s not how it’s going to happen.
Crosby likes to skate with Dupuis and Kunitz. It’s not a mandate, but Coach Dan Bylsma knows. That means either Bennett or Neal plays left (his weaker) wing.
Bylsma and his staff believe any wing can play either wing. They’re right about a lot, but wrong about this. Dupuis can. Jarome Iginla couldn’t.
The Penguins have a very potent top six up front. But deployment matters.
Vote, please, in the poll at left. What line combinations should the Penguins choose for their top six forwards? It's assumed Malkin and Neal will definitely skate together.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.