The Pittsburgh Penguins are just about to open their training camp, releasing their initial camp roster. With 57 players on the expanded roster, the coaching staff has quite the task ahead to dwindle that number down to the 23-man roster that will go into the regular season. And despite having so many players to evaluate, there remain several free agents on the market looking for professional try-outs (PTO’s) that the Penguins ought to take a deeper look at.
How has no one offered this player a contract? The 26-year-old forward had a breakout campaign last season in Anaheim, where he skated next to budding superstar, Trevor Zegras. He put up 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points over 66 regular season games last season. Analytical models adore him, as he’s a very strong chance producer in the offensive zone. Yet, he remains unsigned as training camp rapidly approaches.
Sonny Milano would bring an excellent burst of speed and offensive touch to the enigmatic bottom six of the Pittsburgh Penguins. They should absolutely offer him a chance to make the roster out of training camp and see what he can do.
The biggest surprise performance last season for the Pittsburgh Penguins belonged to Evan Rodrigues. Registering a career-high 43 points last season, his first half of the regular season was a sterling success. He scored, he carried the puck with confidence, and he helped the Penguins navigate early injuries to their top two centers.
His second half of last season was anything but a success, however. He reverted back to the established player the league knew him as a hard-working, bottom-six forward that can chip in a goal here and there. The Penguins are still in need of consistent support from their bottom six forwards, and another year of Evan Rodrigues could help to stabilize that production.
If the Penguins feel they need another responsible, defensively-minded forward, then look no further than Tyler Motte. The 27-year-old is a low-scoring player, averaging around 15 points per season. He put up only 7 goals between Vancouver and New York. What he lacks in scoring, though, he makes up for in droves with his heavy defensive play. He can hit, fight, and also skate well enough to play with either the third or fourth lines.
The Pittsburgh Penguins struggled with their penalty kill last season, especially after they traded top penalty killer Zach Aston-Reese. Adding a player like Motte would instantly improve the options Coach Sullivan can deploy on the penalty kill and defensive zone face-offs.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are most likely done adding players prior to training camp. But if they feel they need to add more competition or depth, all three of these options bring something the Penguins want to improve this upcoming season. Whether these players might get a chance to suit up for the black and gold is unknown, but with training camp inching closer and closer, the Penguins roster decisions will become more and more interesting.
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