Both Brian Gibbons and Jayson Megna were re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before the Olympic break commenced.
Will they be recalled after it’s over?
Presumably gaining four injured players back from the shelf – Beau Bennett, Chris Connor, Taylor Pyatt, Joe Vitale – it could spell a questionable return for Gibbons and Megna.
If I’m foreshadowing what’s going to happen, my guess is Connor will in all likelihood be sent back to WBS. With the postseason approaching, he’s not a fixture, in my mind, for the final lineup, and so, bound to be demoted.
Vitale is almost certainly set to be in the lineup, given how effective he’s played this season. One point shy of his career-high in a season, not only has his offense been efficient, but his energy, accompanied with desperation, will mesh perfectly for how Pittsburgh wants to play in the postseason.
That, and he’s been one of the bright spots on the bottom two-lines – which has struggled overall.
You can mark Bennett down for an automatic slot as well. Despite only mustering three points (1G, 2A) through 12 games, Bennett’s position on the top-line seems inevitable. With more time, Bennett will eventually start producing – hopefully.
If my math’s correct, that leaves two spots open for audition.
Pyatt has been mediocre. Garnering two goals and skating to a lowly minus-7 rating, other than his size, I can’t see him being a solid contributor for Pittsburgh going forward.
Is there time for him to get more comfortable with his new team? Yes. Do I think he’s the answer moving towards the playoffs? No.
Look, my thought process leads me to conclude he was brought aboard during a time where Pittsburgh’s injuries started to pile up, and they needed insurance. Also, Shero likes to take chances on former first-rounders and players who have succeeded – previously Zach Boychuk, Matt D’Agostini, etc. And considering Pittsburgh’s a little on the short side of size, should Pyatt have thrived, it would have been yet another genius move by Shero.
Point being, Pyatt’s slot in the lineup is questionable. He could very well be a steady skater, but as of right now, I don’t see it.
At least, not better than either Gibbons or Megna, which is why they should take the last two spots.
Pittsburgh has had a difficult time generating any offense from their secondary scorers. And although not everything is circulated around putting points up on the board for the bottom two-lines, in the playoffs, that’s where it separates teams. It distinguishes whose got the most balanced team, and who doesn’t have to rely solely on their top threats.
Yes, both Gibbons and Megna have yet to perform in the postseason. So what. They’re high-energy players anyway, which should make their transition easier.
They don’t have to be placed within the top-six, but they’d slot perfectly on the third-line with center Brandon Sutter. He’s seen all sorts of players roll through his line this season, and I think the chemistry between all three of them would drastically improve that line – a pairing that needs to be more consistent heading up to the playoffs.
However, there’s no indication that either Gibbons or Megna will be recalled, so, I kind of will be puzzled if they don’t. Gibbons has filled in nicely for Bennet while he’s been out, and Megna, whose hit a small offensive wall, still is creating chances for his team to come out on top.
Experience means a lot in the playoffs, I get that. But that doesn’t mean everybody has to have a previous history with the postseason.
Nonetheless, it’s going to be interesting to see what Pittsburgh does.
To me, I’ll be disappointed if they aren’t recalled.