The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Search For a Third Line Center Continues
With the season closing in and camp about to start, the search continues. There are a few moves the Penguins can make in order to lock in their third line center.
Trading for A Third Line Center
GM Jim Rutherford still could trade for a season rental before the Stanley Cup Banner raises on the night of October 4.
Tyler Bozak suits the Penguins team brilliantly. Bozak, 31, is owed $4.2 Million this year but there is a chance that the Maple Leafs could retain some of his Salary. He had 55 points last year (18-37-55) and was a -1. Bozak also tallied 7 power play goals and 18 points in 72 games last year. His numbers are enough to surpass Bonino’s from last year which makes him a good candidate for the missing piece.
The Regina native has also seen Kessel in Toronto which could make things a bit easier for him coming in. Previously playing on the top power play line, Bozak has picked up some big time points and there’s a chance he would be placed back with Kessel.
Bozak is over 55% on face offs which could help him contribute to the penalty kill. He also has a career average of 18:50 TOI which means he can play big minutes for the team.
Bryan Little, drafted 12 overall by the Thrashers in 2006, is also heading into the last year of his contract. Though he is the most expensive center on our list, he could play a key role in the upcoming season.
Winnipeg’s second line center racked up 47 (21-26-47) points in only 52 games this year. Little ranked amongst the league leaders with a 55.6 faceoff win percentage.The Penguins are in a search for somebody who can win faceoffs, score goals, and play meaningful minutes without Crosby and Malkin on the ice.
Kyle Turris, 28, currently plays for the Ottawa Senators. The Penguins, who are infamous for trading away draft picks, may be able to land Turris. The veteran is entering his last year of his contract and is owed $4 million.
In 78 games last year, Turris posted 55 (27-28-55) points and a -3 rating. His 18 power play points were enough to lift Ottawa into the postseason where they were defeated in 7 games during the Eastern Conference Final.
Though Turris could be a great fit he seems to be least likely. Turris is the team’s top center, but for the right price, he could be moved.
Why They Fit
All three of these players have something in common with each other. They’re all Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) at the end of the 2017-2018 season. They all also are top two centers for their teams.
The Penguins are notorious for giving up draft picks and will not cheap out while trying to acquire a match. After repeating in back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships, The Penguins are already favored to go back and win it again. The team and GM Jim Rutherford has shown that they will stop for nothing short but to win again. The Penguins are looking for a two-way center with a high face-off win percentage who can also score points.
With the days winding down until the first puck drops at PPG Arena, it will be interesting to see who comes into the season as the Penguins new third line center.