Shelly Anderson's Penguins chat transcript: 12.23.13

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2:30
 
Shelly Anderson: 
Hello from Ottawa. Fire away with your questions.
2:33
 
Comment From Ross  
Is Zatkoff's contract extension two way? If Vokoun comes back will there just be a battle for #2?
2:36
 
Shelly Anderson: 
Jeff Zatkoff's two-year, $1.2 million extension is a one-way contract. He's earned it. Tomas Vokoun should be finding out soon about whether he can come off of blood-thinners as it's about to the three-month mark. If Vokoun is able to return to the team, it will take some time for him to get in something close to game shape. We'll see who surfaces among those two if/when they are both healthy and available, but it seems as if the Penguins are looking forward to Zatkoff being the backup beyond this season.
2:36
 
Comment From Eric  
Do you see a potential trade in order to keep any of the Call ups on the permanent roster?
2:38
 
Shelly Anderson: 
Not this week, as there is a roster freeze in effect for Christmas. As of now, it's hard to see defenseman Philip Samuelsson and Brian Dumoulin staying with someone else being traded. They are good prospects, but the plan was for them to play primarily in the AHL. As for forwards, it's unlikely that any of the call-ups could displace Beau Bennett on the roster, and Evgeni Malkin is not on IR.
2:39
 
Comment From Kris Letang  
Why not try me at winger?
2:40
 
Shelly Anderson: 
Not the first time someone has suggested shifting an offensive defenseman to the wing, but it's just not something that's done. (I know, I know, but Deryk Engelland was filling a fourth-line role; you don't want Kris Letang playing 8 minutes on the fourth line).
2:40
 
Comment From john  
Any update on Malkin?
2:42
 
Shelly Anderson: 
Malkin didn't travel to Ottawa, but I believe he skated back in Pittsburgh. Players are mandated to take the next three days off. That is, they won't be skating in any sort of team-organized way. So Malkin's progress and evaluation will sort of go on hold, but he'll have three more days to get better after that hard slam into the end boards.
2:42
 
Comment From Clint  
I've read Orpik is practicing again. Is that more skating around and getting conditioning back, or actual practice with the team?
2:43
 
Shelly Anderson: 
So far, it's actual practice with the team. He's doing drills, but there hasn't been a lot of contact. However, he has been symptom-free and fully cleared for a while now, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in the first few days after the break, perhaps even Friday.
2:43
 
Comment From Kellie  
Any idea of when Malkin will return to the lineup?
2:44
 
Shelly Anderson: 
No, but I don't get the feeling it will be more than a week or so, barring some sort of setback -- and coach Dan Bylsma confirmed today that things are going well and there's been no setback.
2:44
 
Comment From Adam  
If Vokoun is able to come back this year, would the Pens be able to send Zatkoff to WBS without exposing him to waivers?
2:45
 
Shelly Anderson: 
I believe so.
2:45
 
Comment From Justin  
What about a potential trade closer to the trade deadline? Also which veterans do you see the penguins resigning this offseason?
2:46
 
Shelly Anderson: 
That's always a possibility with Ray Shero at the helm, but I would bet that he wants to wait and see what the team looks like at something close to being 100 percent healthy before he makes too big a move.
2:46
 
Comment From Vinny from New Guinea  
I am a fan of Letang but with the organizational depth at D and with the way that this team is constructed, do they really 'need' a $7mil defenseman? They seem to play better as a team when the D plays very simply (see last 7-10 games). That does not fit Letang skill set. Just wondering if you see something I do not.
2:49
 
Shelly Anderson: 
I was a bit surprised by the $58 million extension for Kris Letang, but let's remember that last season he was a Norris Trophy candidate and averaged a point a game. This season, Letang has had two injuries, and I suspect the knee injury from the preseason has continued to limit him some.
2:49
 
Comment From Kellie  
Could Orpik possibly return on Friday?
2:49
 
Shelly Anderson: 
I think it's possible, yes.
2:49
 
Comment From Lee  
Do you think that the condensed schedule (because of the Olympics) is a reason behind all the injuries this season?
2:51
 
Shelly Anderson: 
Actually, I will have a story sort of related to that in the Friday Post-Gazette. No, I don't think the two are related, given the nature of the injuries. There isn't anything to suggest a problem with conditioning or being tired, etc., as an underlying cause.
2:51
 
Comment From Joe  
Do you think Kunitz makes team Canada?
2:53
 
Shelly Anderson: 
The sentiment I seem to get from the Canadian brains is that he is more likely not to go to Sochi than to go, but I don't know how close that is to Steve Yzerman's thinking. To me, what Chris Kunitz has done in recent seasons stands alone. He's not just riding Sidney Crosby's coattails. Besides, he played well with Evgeni Malkin, too, when Crosby was hurt. Why wouldn't you want someone who can play with superstars and produce the way Kunitz does?
2:53
 
Comment From Adam  
I never thought I'd be asking this, but do you think Niskanen is pricing himself out of Pittsburgh and into a top-4 role somewhere else with his strong play lately?
2:55
 
Shelly Anderson: 
Interesting question. That's certainly a long way from so many who wanted him to be traded before this season. That's sort of what happened eventually with Jordan Staal, but for now I believe Matt Niskanen is happy with the Penguins. And, as with so many other contingent questions, let's see when/if all of the defensemen get healthy.
2:55
 
Comment From Clint  
Are the Pens happy with Kobasew's play of late, or could he be sitting when some of the forwards come back?
2:57
 
Shelly Anderson: 
He's probably on the bubble, not for doing anything wrong but if everyone gets healthy, there will be some good competition. Certainly, Chuck Kobasew isn't out front of Beau Bennett. And others -- Chris Conner, Harry Zolnierczyk, for instance -- are head of him on the second and third lines. Tanner Glass is soon to come back, too.
2:57
 
Comment From dan  
Is Derek Pouillot a candidate to make this team next year ?
2:59
 
Shelly Anderson: 
He's the same draft class, and round, as Olli Maatta, so, sure, anything could happen with a strong training camp and depending on whether all the veterans return. Pouliot is a different defenseman from Maatta, though. He is an offensive defensman, and they often need a season or so in the AHL to shore up their game defensively before they stick in the NHL (See: Simon Despres).
2:59
 
Comment From Dontcallmejimmy  
James Neal vowed to change his ways after his suspension now he is back to his same ways with dumb penalties will management have a sitdown with him to correct this costly behavior?
3:00
 
Shelly Anderson: 
I don't think the Penguins wait for the offseason to talk to any player about tweaking that might be needed. The team certainly addressed with him his kneeing incident that to his recent suspension.
3:01
 
Shelly Anderson: 
OK, thanks everyone. Have a great, safe holiday and we'll chat again next Monday

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