The Pittsburgh Penguins have made it abundantly clear they plan on running with the same forward core for another season.
Re-singing all of Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, Rickard Rakell, Kasperi Kapanen, and most recently Danton Heinen show that the Penguins don’t have too many plans for change up front.
The singing of Heinen leaves just one spot left for a forward to fill in the starting lineup.
The question is, however, who fills that spot? Do the Pens continue to look toward free agency? Does the team have faith in a youngster still looking to break into the NHL? Or is one of the new trade acquisitions the way to go?
The Penguins currently sit $1.4 million over the salary cap so looking into the market seems like the least likely option.
The odds are stacked in the favor of someone who is currently listed in the organization.
Alex Nylander, Drew O’Connor, and the newly acquired Ryan Poehling are the three likeliest names to take the 12th spot.
All three are young players who carry their own level of NHL pedigree, but are all primed to breakout and become NHL regulars.
It’s a good problem for the Penguins to have; while a vast majority of the forward core will remain the same, this one fresh face could change the fortunes of the bottom six.
The battle is truly on for that last spot any of the three would make a good choice for the Penguins.
An early prediction for who fills the final forward position falls to O’Connor; he’s been in the system for a few years and is on the organizations good side.
The Penguins have a decision to make, and the battle for the fourth line might be one of the most intriguing of the offseason.
Make sure you bookmark Inside the Penguins for the latest news, exclusive interviews, breakdowns and so much more!