Pens' Prospects Missing Opportunity


Forget flying, the flightless birds are having troubles waddling of late.

Not surprisingly, either, as Maxime Talbot, Sergei Gonchar, Evgeni Malkin and Tyler Kennedy are all sidelined.

Very likely to join the list is defenseman Kris Letang, who is scheduled to be evaluated today by team doctors in Pittsburgh after hurting either an elbow or shoulder against the San Jose Sharks.

But as the injuries continue to mount for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the pressing question is not “How will they get through this?” or “Who’s gonna fill the voids?”

It’s “Why aren’t certain players being brought in to fill said voids?”

The answer, unfortunately, is all but pleasant.

Coming into training camp, people talked about the young prospects and their potential of making the team. The feeling was that there was too much talent in the lineup, and thus no room for some of the promising players.

Well, there’s plenty of room nowadays, but no talent.

The shoe-ins, one would think, travel by the names of Eric Tangradi and Luca Caputi. Some might argue Dustin Jeffrey.

They are nowhere to be seen, despite Malkin and Kennedy’s absense. Chris Conner and Chris Bourque earned the invite instead.

On defense, it’s acceptable that Martin Skoula step in for Gonchar, but going into Saturday night’s game against the Sharks, when Alex Goligoski dressing in question, the team called up Deryk Engelland, not Ben Lovejoy–the shoe-in prospect on defense.

It’s hard to criticize management for not calling up Tangradi, Caputi, Jeffrey or Lovejoy. It’s easy, conversely, to criticize the players themselves.

In Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Tangradi has one assist in five games; Caputi has seven points in 12 games, and Jeffrey has one goal in 12 games. Those are not the kind of numbers projected top-six prospects should produce in the AHL.

The opportunity is there for the taking, and early enough in the season to boot.

With as much money as the Penguins have committed to players like Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury and Orpik, management can’t go out and bring in high-end wingers; the talent has to come from within.

So far, there’s not much talent coming within.

And moving forward that will be difficult to do without.

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