Q: It's no surprise to anyone who follows the Pens that they have a wealth of depth down the middle. That said, do you think that sooner rather then later, they will trade some of that depth for a hard-nosed defenseman or a natural wing prospect we so desperately need?
MOLINARI: The three centers in whom most other teams would be interested -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal -- aren't going anywhere, at least in the foreseeable future, so there's little reason to believe a high-impact trade involving a center is looming.
It certainly wouldn't hurt the Penguins to add another quality defenseman or goal-scoring winger and, with a surplus of NHL-caliber forwards on the roster, it's hardly out of the question that they will investigate trade possibilities as the final cutdown to their 23-man roster nears. They would not be dealing from a position of strength in such a situation, however, because other clubs would realize they simply are trying to get something for a player rather than risk losing him for nothing more than a waiver fee, so unless the Penguins decide to part with a high-value player, they're unlikely to get one in return.
The time might come when the Penguins are forced to deal one of their elite young centers for financial reasons -- the hunch here is that Malkin would be the most likely to go, although much can change between now and that point in the future when such a trade might be necessitated -- but it's hard to imagine them moving any of those guys in the near term. If nothing else, the quality of their play -- and thus, their value on the trade market -- should continue to rise over the next few years. (And if Crosby ever leaves, it will be his choice, not the team's. His importance to the franchise might someday rival that of Mario Lemieux.)
Q: What are the organization's thoughts on Paul Bissonnette? I remember as an 18-year- old, he challenged for a roster spot and made it as far as the final cuts. Ever since then, he hasn't appeared to play at the same level in training camps and gets sent to the minors. Is this something that concerns management, or is it just a case of a kid who played way above his head one training camp, but is developing nicely? Does he have NHL potential?
Judd Fuoto, Oakton, Va.
MOLINARI: Bissonnette already has been removed from this year's training-camp roster -- he was among 10 players assigned to the camp of the Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre Sunday -- and there's absolutely no reason to believe that he has a future with the organization.
He was a fourth-round pick in 2003 and, a few months later, made a serious run at a spot on the Penguins' defense before being returned to his junior team in Saginaw. Unfortunately for all concerned, that appears to be the high point of his career, at least to this juncture.
Bissonnette has shuttled between Wilkes-Barre and the Penguins' ECHL team in Wheeling during the past two seasons, playing 79 games with the Nailers and 58 with the Baby Penguins. He has done nothing during his stints in Wilkes-Barre to suggest that he is a prospect worth keeping an eye one, and it probably is in the interest of all concerned that he move on when his contract expires