TAMPA, Fla. -- It was, Ryan Malone said, the kind of request he wouldn't have even thought about turning down.
The kind that might not have been necessary in the first place, for that matter.
So after Tampa Bay acquired left winger Simon Gagne from Philadelphia in July and Gagne asked Malone if he'd be willing to part with No. 12 -- the only sweater Malone had worn during his time with the Penguins and Lightning -- Malone didn't hesitate.
"He asked, and I said it wasn't a problem," Malone said. "He's a game-changing type guy you welcome on your team with open arms."
Surrendering No. 12 meant Malone had to find a new one, however, and he settled on the No. 6 that he'll be sporting when the Lightning and Penguins meet Wednesday at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"It was the last number I had in college before I came to Pittsburgh," Malone said. "It worked out pretty well for me my senior year of college. I really wasn't sure what other number to pick."
Of course, if there's any correlation between sweater numbers and production, Malone and Gagne might want to consider another switch.
Malone's offensive numbers -- one goal and four assists in eight games -- aren't that bad, but his plus-minus rating of minus-7 is second worst on the team.
It is surpassed only by Gagne's minus-8, accumulated in six games before a neck injury forced him to sit out the past two. What's more, Gagne has yet to record a point since joining the Lightning.
The Penguins assigned left winger Eric Tangradi and defenseman Andrew Hutchinson to their American Hockey League team in Wilkes-Barre, reducing the total of players on their major league roster to 21.
That figure does not include center Jordan Staal, who is on the long-term injured list, or winger Arron Asham, who is on injured reserve.
However, the Penguins are expected to activate Asham for their game against the Lightning, and indications are that Staal is getting close to rejoining the lineup after battling a foot infection for several months.
Barring additional injuries or moves, their roster would stand at the league limit of 23 when Asham and Staal return to active duty.
Tangradi, a rookie, did not have to clear waivers to join the Baby Penguins. He had one goal and one assist in nine games, and was averaging 11 minutes, 55 seconds of ice time.
Hutchinson had one assist in five games. His departure leaves the Penguins with just six healthy defensemen, although Zbynek Michalek, who is believed to have a shoulder injury, worked out with his teammates Sunday for the first time since being injured Oct. 11.
Remember Alexander Pechurskiy, the junior goalie who was forced into action when John Curry was pulled after allowing five goals on 14 shots in a 6-2 loss Jan. 16 in Vancouver?
Well, he's still looking for work in the Western Hockey League -- Portland seems to be his primary target, at least for now -- after being released by Tri-City earlier this month.
The Americans apparently cut him because they wanted to bring in an overage defenseman, and Pechurskiy was taking up two slots -- one for an overage player, another for an import -- on their roster.
Reports out of the Pacific Northwest suggest that Pechurskiy's prospects for landing with the Winterhawks hinge on whether the New York Islanders opt to keep Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter, whose WHL rights belong to Portland.
The Islanders are expected to decide what to do with Niederreiter, the youngest player in the NHL at the moment, after he appears in his ninth game of the season Wednesday in Montreal.
A member of the Penguins' front office says that Pechurskiy's current situation has no impact on his future with the team, but that the Penguins would like to see him resume playing as quickly as possible.
Dave Molinari: firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published October 26, 2010 4:00 AM