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Mike Sullivan's Important Role with Penguins

Penguins will need NHL ready forwards to play fourth line role at the start of the season.

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Mike Sullivan has huge role for Penguins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins possess a top nine depth chart at forward that should be able to compete with anyone in the National Hockey League (NHL) during the 2015-2016 season.

The question remains, as it has for the last six years, can this team remain healthy.

Once a dominoe falls, so goes the enviable position the Penguins see themselves in, leaving the General Manager left to patch things up with mud and sticks instead of brick and mortar.

That's life in the NHL's salary cap era, a change this franchise hasn't adjusted to well since winning the 2009 Stanley Cup.

During General Manager Jim Rutherford's end of season press conference, he said "We’d like to get more speed in our lineup. We would like to get some of these younger players started. Some of that young energy will help."

The fourth line is where Rutherford is going to see the most improvement in this area.

Beau Bennett is playing on a one-year contract, likely his last if he can't stay healthy and more importantly, doesn't produce offensively.

After Bennett, the 11th, 12th, and 13th forward spots should be open for competition.

This is where new Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan has to make improvements for this franchise.

Sullivan spoke at length on the importance of playing the same system and being aligned with Penguins Head Coach Mike Johnston. Listen here for the full audio

Very close. We had a couple of days of coaches meetings and we talked a lot about tactical play, strategy, philosophy, and we're very close. I think there'll be subtle differences just based on logistics, personnel, leagues are a little bit different, so there will be subtle differences but I think the main philosophy, main strategies, and tactics will be very similar. We even talked about using similar vocabulary, so that the call up process is seamless as we can make it, so that when the players do get called up, its not brand new to them. It is something that they've already been introduced to the vocabulary. Even some of the drills that we're going to use. We're going to try to have some similarity so that process is as seamless as possible.

While a few players will earn the opportunity for the final three spots to start the season, Sullivan's job is make sure he has everyone ready to play in the NHL.

If Oskar Sundvqist, Scott Wilson, and Bryan Rust earn jobs, then one struggles, that's where Sullivan has to perform. He has to have someone like Conor Sheary or Josh Archibald ready to compete in the NHL, while getting a disappointed player to wake up and re-establish himself in the AHL in order to get back to the NHL.

It won't be easy considering the personnel is limited from a talent perspective but Sullivan has the expectations these players understand the high standard of being a Pittsburgh Penguin will drive the compete level and ability to fight through adversity.