The Penguins released Daniel Carcillo from his professional tryout contract Thursday morning.
While the decision wasn’t easy — like him or hate him, Carcillo has a ton of grit and toughness, and he fought through obvious foot pain to even take the ice — it advances the picture of the roster moving forward.
Depending on the health and availability of Evgeni Malkin, the toughest decision, in my opinion, centers around what to do with Kasperi Kapanen, Oskar Sundqvist and Zach Sill.
Is Kapanen ready? Was Sundqvist’s camp legit and emblematic of what he’ll do during the regular season?
Sill provides a ton of toughness and grit, stuff you would have gotten with Carcillo. He and Downie also get along, for whatever that’s worth.
If Malkin’s healthy, you likely have an open spot on his left wing that Kapanen or Sundqvist could fill. Were it me, I’d take Kapanen. I know management and coaches also have no problem with Steve Downie playing there.
For your bottom six — assuming Sundqvist or Kapanen sticks on the second line and Malkin’s healthy — you can take five from this group: Brandon Sutter, Downie, Blake Comeau, Nick Spaling, Craig Adams, Marcel Goc and Sill.
Figure Sutter, Downie and Goc are locks. Comeau and Spaling are darn close; why would you acquire someone in the offseason to not use them? Adams and Sill are on the bubble.
Say Downie plays with Malkin and Hornqvist. Then you’re picking a bottom six from this group: Sutter, Comeau, Spaling, Adams, Goc, Sill, Sundqvist and Kapanen.
If Malkin isn’t healthy enough to start the season, the decision is made easier. Play Sutter on the second line, potentially with Kapanen or Sundqvist or even Downie, and you probably only have to make a decision on whether you want Kapanen or Sundqvist.
For what it’s worth, Sundqvist has appeared more comfortable playing among the bottom six than Kapanen, whose game seems much more suited for a top-six role.
The point of all this?
The Penguins probably want to know what they’re facing with Malkin.
Be GRATEFUL to each other,