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Pens on the PK in 2015-16

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Who will kill penalties this season for the Pittsburgh Penguins? After a season of change, there are more questions than answers.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After all the changes that the Pittsburgh Penguins have made with their personnel, one interesting aspect is the penalty kill. Take a look at the Pens top 10 penalty killing forwards from last season. Notice any red scratches?

penspkforwards

The top 6 PK'ing forwards from last season are all plying their trades somewhere else. For what was the league's 3rd best penalty kill unit in the league (thanks largely to Marc-Andre Fleury 's .912 save % that was 2nd best in the league among regular starters).

Still, forwards set the framework for the penalty kill literally from the start with the faceoff. With Brandon Sutter, Craig Adams, Nick Spaling and the combo of Marcel Goc/Maxim Lapierre gone (the backbone of the Pens unit last year) who can they turn to this season?

Eric Fehr - Pascal Dupuis

Probably the first pair, once Fehr returns from injury. He's big, a 50%+ faceoff guy, good positionally and should be a nice piece for the Pens there. Dupuis, if healthy himself, will be the mainstay PK'ing forward. With his speed, positioning and determination, he's going to be the top guy for Pittsburgh.

Matt Cullen - Oskar Sundqvist/Scott Wilson

Cullen at age 38 has been more of an offensive minded player recently, but certainly has the speed and experience to have killed penalties in the past. He's also good at faceoffs and won't be playing a ton at even-strength. On the flip side, he could be paired with whomever the 4th line young winger is. Bottom line is 4th line players have to contribute somehow, and the Pens need some to kill penalties

Nick Bonino-David Perron

Another pairing with some skill that hopefully wouldn't be getting pinned in deep for long. Bonino didn't kill penalties extensively with Vancouver or Anaheim, but he seems like a somewhat well rounded player, who can take faceoffs well too. Perron hasn't been known as a great two-way player either, but since he'll be de-emphasized on the power play, he could revert back to playing some 4v5.

Sidney Crosby-Chris Kunitz

This could be an interesting pair. Crosby shouldn't do a lot of heavy lifting while short-handed, but he's good at faceoffs and capable of killing some penalties. Kunitz is in a similar situation as Perron and as he transitions out of being in the first unit power play role, can and should contribute more at 4v5 for Pittsburgh in his golden years.

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A lot of different possibilities could exist, the Penguins will certainly look different up front on the PK next season. With Adams along gone, the unit will look much different. There's no Jordan Staal/Brandon Sutter type too. But since the Penguins have a better and generally deeper pool of forwards, the penalty kill shouldn't suffer. But it certainly will be different.