Penguins Q&A with Dave Molinari
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Q: Let's assume Kris Beech plays well for the Penguins the rest of this season. That leaves us with six natural centers (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Erik Christensen, Maxime Talbot, Beech) going into next season. Which of those are most likely to be moved to wing, or will we see some trades in the off-season?
Derek Dragisich, Scott Township
MOLINARI: There are a couple of major assumptions there. The first, and most significant, is that Beech will perform so well that the Penguins will conclude that they wouldn't want to go forward without him. Don't forget, three other clubs -- all of whom trail the Penguins in the overall standings, and none of whom have a collection of centers rivaling that of the Penguins -- have deemed Beech expendable enough to have waived him this season.
What's more, if Beech does happen to become a significant contributor during the stretch drive and playoffs, he might find that some other clubs are willing to pay him more than the Penguins are when he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. Even if they want to keep him, he would be free to go elsewhere.
Everyone you listed has spent some time on the wing -- Christensen and Talbot are playing there now -- in the NHL, and it's conceivable that all, with the probable exception of Crosby, will turn up there again at some point in the future.
Ultimately, though, of the five who have spent the entire season with the Penguins, Christensen appears to be the best bet to be the odd-man out. He plays a top-six forward's game, but dislodging Crosby and Malkin from the top two lines seems, to put it charitably, highly unlikely.
Q: When a penalty is called on a goalie or on the bench, is it required that a player be in the box?
Chris Burkett, New York City
MOLINARI: Per Rule 20.3, if a player who has been assessed a major penalty is injured or otherwise removed from the game, his team does not have to place a substitute player in the penalty box immediately. However, if the penalty expires before the team has put someone there, it must continue to play shorthanded until the first stoppage of play after the penalty time runs out. (As a additional deterrent, if a team declines to put a player in the box to serve the major, its penalty-killers are not allowed to ice the puck without risking a faceoff in their own zone, even if they do so after the penalty time is up.)
First Published February 5, 2008 12:00 am