As PensAreYourDaddy pointed out earlier today, most people either love or hate the idea of Staal and Malkin being put on the same line. I guess you could say I'm more on the hate side but because this move has allowed the Pens organization (specifically Ray Shero) to vastly improve our defense, I'm ok with it for now - but only for now.
Some of the reasons I think the Pens can only afford to have Staalkin together to fill a hole during the regular season:(NOTE: I didn't mean to call some people out, I'm only referencing some of the rebuttals to my stance. I'm also using my comments, in block quotes, that I wrote in Diomedes7 fabulously written "Who's Next? The final Free Agent Forward to Join the Pens will be...")
1. So who's playing wing?
If Malkin is switched to wing, we’re going to have $8.7 million dollars worth of cap in a place where he’s uncomfortable. If Staal is switch to wing, we’ll have a Selke Finalist playing a position where his defensive abilities aren’t maximized.
2. How does this affect out matchups with other teams?
the third line is your energy line, but you can’t beat a 3rd line that does that AND scores on a regular basis. Other teams simply can’t match up to that.
The opposition wants their top D men against Crosby, then their second guys are going against Malkin. Fine. The huge thing is that their 3rd D pairing is going against [Staal who] could easily be a first line center.
Now, this is where the "for now" part comes in. I think we'd be ok, in terms of match ups, for the regular season. In the playoffs, however, when teams have much more time to analyze us defensively, I think this could really come back to bite us. Take our wingers last season for example. We got by just fine with the wingers we had in the regular season, but in the playoffs, Montreal found a way to neutralize our strength down the middle, thereby exposing our weakness on the wing.
3. Staal's role on the team.
Here's one of the reasons many people have been advocating for a Staal promotion to the second line:
"I don’t know why you think a Selke nominee and $4M player belongs on a third line…"
They're right. On a regular team, a player that's being paid $4 million to do his job shouldn't be a 3rd line center. But, this isn't a regular team.
We don’t need that big 2nd or 1st line guy, when we already have two in Sid and Geno. Staal’s role is to provide defense through the PK while producing offense at ES. You’re right in the sense that he is a first/second line talent, but that’s not needed on this team with 87-71.
Overall, I'm all for the Staalkin line plugging a hole right now. I think we'll have a great year next year and I'm really excited. I do think that it'd be a mistake to go into the playoffs with the big three on two lines because of the matchup situation. I do know that the organization truly values the three center depth that we have and believe that it will be fixed at the trade deadline.