Dec 21, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Chuck Kobasew (12) at the face-off circle against the Calgary Flames during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Chuck Kobasew Should Not Be On The Pens' Top-Line


Ever since Beau Bennett, and for that matter Pascal Dupuis, went down, the top-line hasn’t solidified the right wing slot.

Forward Brian Gibbons, who was assigned top-line duties while Bennett is out, also suffered an injury that’s given him a timetable of a week-to-week prognosis. Which is unfortunate, considering how well he was playing.

Now that forwards Chuck Kobasew and Jayson Megna have returned to the lineup, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz have received a couple of options.

Megna, who was practicing with the first-line during his recovery process, ultimately found himself skating on the fourth pairing in his first game since Dec. 16, and Kobasew ended up slotted alongside Crosby and Kunitz.

When in reality, the two should be switching lines.

Megna’s impeccable speed, accompanied with great net presence and find open-space mentality fit the top-lines’ description. Kobasew, who is mainly a forechecker and has had trouble keeping-up with the first-line at times, I feel would mesh better with the fourth pairing.

In the three games since both of them returned from injury, neither has registered a point and each have looked nearly invisible. Kobasew hasn’t scored a point since the second game of the season, which adds further peculiarity surrounding the decision to place him on the top-line.

Matter of fact, Kobasew only has two goals on the season, which is somewhat disappointing, considering he performed tremendously in the preseason to earn his eventual contract.

Megna has been a steady contributor when he’s healthy, and the 23-year-old thrives when skating alongside Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. When given the opportunity to play with those two, he’s excelling and creating chances to score a lot more often than Kobasew.

Now, Megna’s first-line duties may not be long lasting, given the fact that Bennett will at some point return, but for the time-being, he’s more than capable of handling the responsibility. Crosby’s playmaking ability to get the puck to his fellow wingers, combined with Megna’s scoring tenacity, makes the unit that much more of a threat.

Although the team has won the last two games, and there may not be no sense of urgency to make the switch, the adjustment should construct the team to be more well-balanced. It’s just all about finding the right pieces that fit the puzzle.

Gibbons and Megna are the best options for the top-line while Bennett is out. And because Gibbons isn’t available due to a foggy lower-body injury, Megna is your man.

Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Forest Marsden

    Like reading your stuff Johnny. Imo, Kobasew doesnt belong in the NHL, and Megna barely. THough i am will to hold out judgement on him because i do like his speed. As far as Bennett, who knows? Havent seen enough of him to be candid. The Pens winger depth and development has been horrid, neglected and exposed when injuries to people like Bennett happen. Thats why i was shocked when Shero threw money wastefully into an area of strength by signing both Letang and inexpicably Scuderi instead of going after a WHeeler or Penner last offseason. A shake up is needed.

    • Johnny

      Much appreciated Forest.

      I’m having a hard time grasping Bylsma’s decision to place Kobasew in the lineup, much less the top-line. Two goals. That’s all he’s mustered this season.

      Megna is an interesting piece. He really thrived on the top two lines. And since Crosby doesn’t have a right winger at the moment, his speed – like you said – matches perfect with his.

      Bennett is a huge question mark. When healthy, he wasn’t producing much, and that’s whennnn he’s healthy. Guy has been fragile over recent years, and a lot of that has to do with his build. His scoring ability, however, can’t be ignored.

      The winger depth and development isn’t as bad has you think – they just aren’t using their youth as much. Take a look at Anton Zlobin next time you get the chance. Guy has a legitimate chance to make it big. Megna has great potential – remember, he’s undrafted, and I can recall someone fitting his description. I believe the player I’m thinking of plays in Tampa with that guy Steven Stamkos – Marty St. Louis. So don’t lose hope on Megna – you didn’t imply it – but just wait, he’s going to be something special.

      As for a winger needed on the top-line, don’t be surprised if Evander Kane’s name surfaces.