Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford appears to have made it quite clear to those who have interviewed him, he wants four lines that can score.
Over the last six seasons, scoring was the last thing the fourth line was going to do with Craig Adams as the anchor.
This upcoming season barring an injury or a medical relapse for Pascal Dupuis, there's probably one spot in the top three lines open for Beau Bennett and Sergei Plotnikov, thus leaving one of them to be in the unfortunate position of being a fourth line winger.
Who joins them on the fourth line isn't known as Rutherford said during the Phil Kessel press conference that he's looking for a center and based on previous comments after the season that he wants to keep spots open for guys on a tryout or two-way contract to get a chance to earn a job.
It makes sense as the team would love to see Swedish center Oskar Sundqvist earn the job out of training camp in September but that's asking a lot of the 21 year old with exactly one game of experience in the AHL. Sundqvist is going to need to have a Jordan Staal type of performance in camp and then an injury or disappointing performance like Staal got in 2006 to show what he can do early in the season.
Long-term, Sundqvist is being viewed as the replacement for Brando Sutter's spot on the third line since the veteran is slated to be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
How Rutherford can make it happen with a tight salary cap is going to be more difficult than the month it took to get the Kessel trade with Toronto completed.
Once you sign that veterean fourth line center for let's call it a million and resign restricted free agents Bennett and Brian Dumoulin for around $850,000 each, it would leave around $1.5-$2 milllion to add two forwards plus leave some salary around for injuries/callups, which we learned last season, no one wants a repeat of the 5 defensemen situation.
If Bennett is viewed as the fourth line right winger, he's more of a soft play-making sort than the traditional sandpaper type that gets a steady diet of short-handed time on the ice.
The team figures to have plenty of options internally besides Sundqvist as Scott Wilson, Tyler Biggs, Bobby Farnham, Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Kael Mouillierat, Kevin Porter, Bryan Rust, and Dominik Uher will battle for two of the three open spots on the bottom of the roster.
As for the free agent centers that averaged a minute or more per game on the penalty-kill, not much is there to pick from once you eliminate the former players like Craig Adams, Marcel Goc, and Maxim Lapierre and then remove Jarret Stoll because of his April arrest on felony cocaine possession. The left overs are Manny Malhotra, Jim Slater, Will Acton, T.J. Galiardi, Tim Sestito, Trevor Smith, Adam Burish, Olli Jokinen, Eric Fehr, and Matt Ellis.
Once you factor in salary, you can scratch Fehr as he'll likely command a multi-year deal for over the available million in cap space.
Remove the players who have little offensive skills, basically left with Olli Jokinen, not exactly a winner.
I'd recommend the team look at taking a chance on Stephen Weiss, a recent buyout by the Detroit Red Wings. Prior to going to Detroit, Weiss was a regular in Florida on the penalty-kill.
According to War-on-Ice, in a year viewed negatively, Weiss was able to post a 53.44 Corsi For per 60 during Even-strength 5on5 while his on-ice competition had a 54.2 Corsi For per 60.
Weiss can be a good player in Pittsburgh with his skill set and taking a one year deal to reset his market value wouldn't be the worst thing for him.