Forget razor-sharp skate blades, nose-level elbows and 100 mph slap shots.
If this week is any indication, the most dangerous thing in hockey might be getting selected by the Penguins in the opening round of the NHL draft.
No fewer than three of their first-rounders from recent years -- winger Beau Bennett of the Class of 2010 and defensemen Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot, both chosen in 2012 -- have had major surgeries in the past two days and will need extended periods to recover.
Bennett had his wrist operated on Thursday at the Cleveland Clinic and is expected to need about four months to get over the effects of the procedure.
Maatta has a projected recovery period of 4-6 months after Dr. Mark Rodosky of UPMC performed a shoulder labral repair Thursday. That's the same prognosis offered for Pouliot after he had shoulder surgery Wednesday.
Bennett, 22, had wrist surgery during the season, when he managed only three goals and four assists in 21 games. Nonetheless, he is expected to contend for a spot on one of the top two lines in 2014-15.
Maatta won't turn 20 until Aug. 22, but had a strong rookie season after forcing his way onto the roster with an excellent performance in training camp. He finished with nine goals and 20 assists in 78 regular-season appearances and added four assists in 13 playoff games.
BriseBois likely on list
Penguins executives have been compiling and assessing a list of general manager candidates for at least a week, and all indications are that Julien BriseBois, the assistant general manager for Tampa Bay, has a prominent place on it.
Neither side, however, is willing to confirm that he will interview for the job that opened when Ray Shero was fired Friday.
BriseBois declined to tell a Tampa, Fla., reporter whether he has had contact with the Penguins, and a team official reiterated Thursday that no one from the club plans to speak publicly while the process is playing out.
Jason Botterill, who was Shero's assistant, is the interim general manager and the only publicly acknowledged contender, but highly regarded assistant GMs such as Joe Will (San Jose), Jeff Gorton (New York Rangers) and Paul Fenton (Nashville) also figure to receive consideration.
Good day for Malkin
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist in Russia's 3-0 victory against France in the quarterfinals of the world championships Thursday in Minsk, Belarus.
He played on a line with Nikolai Kulemin of Toronto and Phoenix draft choice Viktor Tikhonov.
"Kulemin and I have played with each other a lot before and I know how to play with him," Malkin told reporters in Minsk. "It was a good win, but we could have played better and been more effective."
Malkin got his goal early in the second period, when he got the puck along the goal line to the right of the French net, deked past goalie Cristobal Huet and tucked a shot inside the post.
The U.S. was eliminated from the tournament by a 4-3 loss to the Czech Republic.
In other games, Canada lost in the quarterfinals for the fifth time in a row when Finland scored late to win, 3-2, and defending champion Sweden got a third-period goal to beat Belarus, 3-2.
Baby Penguins advance
The Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre will face St. John's in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final Saturday night in Newfoundland.
The Baby Penguins advanced with a 5-4 win against Providence, Boston's top minor league club, in a Game 7 Wednesday night in Wilkes-Barre.
It is the second year in a row in which the Baby Penguins eliminated the Bruins, both times in seven games, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's record in Games 7 rose to 8-2, including 3-0 on home ice.
The Baby Penguins' home games against Winnipeg's top affiliate will be Wednesday, Thursday and May 31.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.