Monday, September 12, 2011

Roster Review - Training Camp is Coming

Training camp will open in just a few days, with the players reporting for testing / medicals on Friday, September 16th.  The first practice is Saturday, September 17th.  The first preseason game is one week from Wednesday (yeah, it's that soon).

That makes this a good chance to take a look at the players in the mix for a spot with the big club.  There aren't many spots open, especially on the blue line.

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first...

Goalie
Marc-Andre Fleury, Brent Johnson

There's no doubt, barring injury, who the goaltenders will be in 2011-2012.

Defense
Paul Martin, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Zybanek Michalek, Deryk Engelland, Ben Lovejoy, Matt Niskanen

Again, these guys are pretty well set.  If someone is hurt, you could see the recently acquired Alexandre Picard (who debuted in the NHL in 2005-06, but is younger than Lovejoy and Engelland) or one of the young guys like Robert Bortuzzo or Brian Strait, both of whom have two years of Wilkes-Barre experience under their belt.

Forward
Craig Adams, Aaron Asham, Matt Cooke, Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy, Chris Kunitz, Mark Letestu, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Jordan Staal, Steve Sullivan

Here's where we have a logjam.  Obviously, Sid will likely not be ready to start the season (he hasn't been cleared for contact yet), but there are still 12 guys listed above aside from Crosby.  There are lots of questions (How will Geno's knee hold up?  How will James Neal perform?  How much does Steve Sullivan have in the tank, and can he stay healthy?), but there are a bunch of guys that are trying to crack this lineup.  I'm thinking of names like Eric Tangradi, Nick Johnson, Richard Park, Jason Williams and Steve MacIntyre.  You may see the Pens carry MacIntyre on the roster to fill the Godard role this season, and maybe Richard Park as a fourth line replacement.

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