The Pittsburgh Penguins 4th line has been a point of contention for many years. A 4th line is going to change and be quite fluid, almost by definition, with players coming and going. In recent years the Pens have employed some effective and good 4th liners -- which is where they pegged Blake Comeau at the beginning of the season, don't forget -- but also some very bad ones.
Another bad one might be coming back too.
Jim Rutherford planted the seed last month, at the season end press conference:
"You have Farnham as a wild card, because he brings something to a team. He certainly is going to play some games here next year. Will he be able to jump into the opening lineup? We’ll see who he’s fighting with, but he brings a certain element."
Farnham is a free agent this summer and based off the comments above, you can expect him back next season. And not only expect that, but to see him in the NHL again, possibly even from Day 1. Farnham made his NHL debut this season, scoring 0 points in 11 games, a very Zach Sill-ian beginning of his career.
That's not the only way Farnham looks a lot like Sill:
Farnham's down in Sill, Maxim Lapierre and Craig Adams territory. Which is about how good he would be in the NHL next season.
And today, new DK report Josh Yohe (who we like) penned a gushing, joyous love-letter to Farnham.
My travels took me to Canada two weeks ago, and on the way, I stopped in Syracuse.
What was in Syracuse, you ask?
Bobby Farnham, that’s what.
The Baby Penguins put the finishing touches on their first-round sweep against the Syracuse Crunch on that night and, to be frank, I wanted to watch a number of players. But Farnham stole my attention, as usual.
"I have that ability," Farnham said following the game, flashing one of the great hockey player grins I’ve ever witnessed.
By the time the first period had concluded, his helmet had been dislodged twice, he had made two trips to the penalty box, had taunted the visiting crowd, chirped no less than three times at the Crunch bench and, of course, had given his team a power play.
Other reporters at the game spoke with coaches, those who scored against Syracuse and big names, such as Derrick Pouliot. Not me. When Farnham’s in the house, my attention belongs to him.
Oh man, you would think Farnham was Connor McDavid with an opening like that.
However, Bobby Farnham is very far from Connor McDavid. If Farnham is one of the top 12-13 forwards that Pittsburgh has next season, it's bound to be another long year of ineffective 4th line play for the team.
(Farnham, by the way, has 0 points and 14 penalty minutes in 7 AHL playoff games so far).
Instead of Farnham the Penguins should look to better young players to fill their 4th line. Scott Wilson. Oskar Sundqvist. Even Bryan Rust. Farnham works hard but he shouldn't be in the NHL next season, even if he can make fans and sportswriters alike fall in love with his chirping, jawing, energy and personality. He fights! He skates hard! He's fun to watch and root for! He draws penalties! (Just nevermind that he takes a lot too!) That's all great, but one thing he won't do is make the team actually, you know, better.
The Penguins did a good thing by getting rid of Sill and announcing they won't bring back Adams either. But if they replace them with other players who aren't going to contribute anything tangible, the team won't improve.