Hooks touched on this the other day in his link round up but I thought we could afford to blow this out a bit more given the time of the year and all.
It's not all that rare to see a rookie or two get a chance to make the parent club heading into camp. Three spots is what the Pens have to work with this year and, given the injury history from last season, it'd be nice to see some of the younger guys earning some face time.
Yesterday's PG article suggested Bylsma may be looking to add a few new faces. This is undoubtedly true to start the season, but let's also consider the following. Crosby is out but will likely (hopefully, God willing) return for the second half of the season. So based on no evidence at all, let's just go ahead and say that he will hypothetically be back in January. Dustin Jeffrey, similarly recovering from a knee injury, is on a two-way contract this season and a one-way for next season. Obviously there is no way to gauge his recovery and how Bylsma will use him, if at all this season, but let's also go ahead and say Jeffrey will be ready by January.
Depending on which rookies actually do crack the roster to start the season, I don't anticipate we will see all three of these new faces for the entire length of the season. Consider Kris Letang's first season when he played only a handful of games. Alex Goligoski's up-and-down travels during the early stages of his career. Mark Letestu, Jeffrey, even Ben Lovejoy to a lighter extent all took that same sort of course.
So now I suppose the pressing question is which three players will we see in camp and the season opener? Obviously the focus has to be on the forwards. Bylsma hinted that a bit yesterday as well when he suggested how he might be juggling lines with James Neal and Tyler Kennedy. But before we pencil Richard Park's name into the opening night's lineup, let's consider who could potentially make the jump.
Will the Pens choose to add a little (more) grit during the early stages of the season and give Steve Macintyre some ice time? What about a veteran guy like Jason Williams? Wilkes-Barre Scranton's captain Ryan Craig? Maybe Nick Petersen?
Your guess is as good as mine at this point, which is why I'm throwing it out there for debate. If I'm taking a guess I'd say Big Mac might skate three to five minutes a night. So there's one spot. Perhaps Williams and/or Craig could eat up some time on the fourth line, but now I'm just filling in the blanks for the sake of doing so.
So, let's open it up for discussion.