Penguins goalie Matt Murray makes a save in front of two goals during last summer's Penguins development camp at Consol Energy Center.
Chuck in SoCal: Why didn't Plotnikov work out? Is it his fault or the Penguins?
Dave Molinari: There's probably enough blame to go around, although Plotnikov never showed that he was capable of having any sort of meaningful impact with the Penguins. Early expectations for him might have been overblown -- remember, he was discussed as a possible linemate for Evgeni Malkin last summer and fall -- but a guy who is 6-2, 202 pounds and showed a decent scoring touch in the KHL (he scored between 13 and 15 goals in each of his four seasons there) really seems like he could have done more here. It's possible that he'll benefit from a change of scenery -- frankly, he can't do any less in Arizona than he did with the Penguins -- but the trade in which he was involved earlier today doesn't figure to go down among the most epic in franchise history.
Kelvin: Any chance we see Crosby-Kessel on the same line again?
Dave Molinari: It absolutely is a possibility. Heck, it could happen as early as tonight, although there's been no indication that is coach Mike Sullivan's plan. Crosby and Kessel weren't very effective when they played together earlier this season, but did seem to be developing a bit of chemistry when they were reunited for a few games a while ago. Sullivan doesn't seem to have any of his line combinations set in stone, so there's every reason to think that the Crosby-Kessel pairing will get another chance.
Ryan: Boedkar and Grabner seem like good fits to me, if we do end up trading for a winger. Any likelihood that either are a possibility. Hate to say it but Hartnell might fit nicely as well
Dave Molinari: There's been no evidence that the Penguins are aggressively pursuing a winger, although just about everyone on the personnel side of their operation has gone dark to this point in the day. While they certainly could use a winger -- ideally, one capable of filling a top-six role -- the thinking here is that their priority between now and the deadline at 3 p.m. will be adding another defenseman, especially since they lost David Warsofsky on waivers to New Jersey earlier today. Depth on the blue line is critical for teams that hope to make a significant playoff run.
Dave Molinari: All lines are open if you have a question.
Dave Molinari: For those looking on, Arizona reportedly has traded Mikkel Boedker to Colorado, which means the Penguins won't have to contend with him this evening. Of course, shutting down Plotnikov is another matter ...
boo: Why did we lose Warsofsky to NJ? I thought he was sent down for conditioning stint? Thanks
Dave Molinari: Warsofsky, who was recovering from a concussion, had been on a conditioning stint in Wilkes-Barre, but was recalled from the Baby Penguins Sunday, then promptly put on waivers (he couldn't stay in the AHL indefinitely on a conditioning assignment) a short time later to give the Penguins roster flexibility if it was needed today, with the trade deadline approaching.
dave: Do you understand what they're doing with the backup goalies? Are they hoping to trade Zatkoff?
Dave Molinari: I think they would be quite willing to trade Zatkoff, but it appears to be a buyer's market for backup goalies at this point, so there's no guarantee they will be able to move him. Carrying three goalies really is perplexing most of the time -- there are only two nets on the rink -- but in this case, it seems clear that management is more confident in Matt Murray than it is in Zatkoff, and with fight for a playoff spot so tight and every point being critical, Murray is the guy they think can earn a few when called upon.
Janie: Is there any chance that Olli's required military service messes up his ability to train this summer (and likely next, given it's at least six months service). I guess what I'm really asking is should we not be surprised if Olli's performance trends up further into his contract after his military commitment because he'll actually be able to train the way he needs to (hopefully without injuries etc)
Dave Molinari: That's an interesting question, and one on which I can't offer a firm opinion. There are, however, people who contend that Maatta is TOO committed to training, that he doesn't stay away from the rink and out of the weight room as much as he should. Serving in the military isn't generally viewed as a vacation, but in his case, it just might provide a break that would work to his benefit.
JamesinNYC: Any idea about the minor leaguer they got for Plots? Guess something is better than nothing?
Dave Molinari: Matthias Platcha, 24, is a left winger from Germany who is playing in North America for the first time. People in Arizona say that he was impressive at their development camp and training camp last year, and that it appeared he would be one of the first guys called up from their farm team in Springfield. He was, in fact, promoted once this season, but never got into a game. He had two goals and five assists in 46 AHL games. He already has been assigned to Wilkes-Barre, and there's no reason to think he will be in the NHL anytime soon.
Kelvin: Is this the year the Capitals make a playoff run?
Dave Molinari: The Capitals certainly have had an impressive regular season and have assembled an impressive lineup, so they probably are the early favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. That said, Washington has a long history of playoff pratfalls, so there will be extra pressure on the Capitals this spring to make the most of what is, to this point in their history, their best opportunity to make a serious run at a Cup.
me: Any news on Bennett? What is the injury? When is he expected back? Has he disappeared off the face of the earth?
Dave Molinari: The only question of that group that I can answer is the last. No, he has not disappeared off the face of the earth. Not as of Sunday, anyway. I spotted him in a hallway outside the Penguins' locker room shortly after their practice. The team never has divulged the nature of his injury, and has not announced a time frame for him to return to the lineup.
me: What do you think of the new Maatta contract?
Dave Molinari: It seems, at first blush, like a pretty good deal for both sides, although I could see it skewing strongly in the Penguins' favor if Maatta performs to his potential in coming seasons. The deal covers the first two seasons for which he would have been a free agent, so that certainly is a big plus for management.
Chuck in SoCal: At this point, who are your favorites to win the East, the West and the Cup?
Dave Molinari: I'd probably like to defer answering that question until the trade deadline has passed and we see what everyone's roster looks like, but if I had to pick now, I'd probably stick with my preseason choices of Washington and Anaheim. Chicago has done a sensational job of loading up its lineup for another Cup run and it would be foolish to rule out Los Angeles as a candidate to win a championship, but I will stick with my original selections. Of course, all it takes is one key injury -- or one unfavorable matchup -- to change everything. But that's what makes winning a Cup so special, and so much fun to watch.
Kim: How many games does Fleury play between now and the end of the year? Do you rest him for the playoffs or make sure that the team gets in by playing him a lot?
Dave Molinari: That probably will be determined by how things play out the rest of the way, but if the Penguins continue to be in a struggle to secure a playoff spot, I would expect Fleury to play all of the games except for splitting the work in back-to-back situations. They obviously don't want to wear him out before the playoffs begin, but having him rested for the playoffs is moot if they don't qualify.
Dave Molinari: I think we're out of time, guys, so thanks again for all the terrific questions. And enjoy the gut-wrenching, emotional return of Sergei Plotnikov of Consol Energy Center this evening.
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