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Dominik Simon’s depth could provide shot in arm for Penguins

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NHL: Preseason-Chicago Blackhawks at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins didn’t win last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs but there were some encouraging signs

Auston Matthews is believed to be a little banged up at the moment but 18-0 shot attempt edge by Sidney Crosby is nothing short of a total domination.

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Corey Pronman of The Athletic recently gave this scouting report on Dominik Simon:

Dominik Simon is a nice skilled little guy but might end up being a tweener who is not skilled enough for the NHL at his size

Simon got his NHL season debut last night on the 3rd line and had 2 assists. Bottom six scoring has been almost non-existent this season for the Penguins with Carl Hagelin having but 2 goals and 3 assists all season. Tom Kuhnhackl only has 1g+3a, Carter Rowney has 2 points in 17 games (1g+1a) and Ryan Reaves isn’t around to score, which is a good thing since he’s not doing much of that either (1g+2a).

Simon to nearly match some of those season-numbers in a single game is probably more telling for just how bad the others have been, but it’s also encouraging in the sense that maybe Simon can add some skill to the bottom-six. Thought it was great of coach Mike Sullivan to give Simon a chance on a third line with Riley Sheahan (who with 9 points in 22 games as a Pen is the most productive bottom-six player) and Patric Hornqvist, who obviously is going to rotate at times up with the Crosby line.

While Daniel Sprong may be the crown jewel of skill in Pittsburgh’s system, Simon has proven to be a very productive AHL player with 48 and 46 point seasons in the past and a WB/S team leading 16 points (3g+13a) in 20 games this season. Pronman’s worry above about Simon is legitimate, at 5’10, 180ish pounds he doesn’t have good NHL size and his skating is much worse than other AHL graduates like Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and even Kuhnhackl.

Concerns aside, Pittsburgh is pretty desperate to find secondary scoring from their third line, and Simon has certainly merited a look to see how long he can be a contributing player, even getting some shifts on the Crosby line after the Hornqvist injury last night.

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Speaking of injuries, they’re starting to mount. The Pens are already down starting goalie Matt Murray and they lose arguably their 2nd most important defenseman in Justin Schultz for an extended week-to-week period two games ago. Last night Hornqvist left with maybe an eye injury and with no practice today there won’t be much an update. Hornqvist is a big reason the power play is hitting at 39% since mid-November, losing him would be a blow to depth and the man-advantage. Hopefully that was one of those “not as bad as it looked” situations.

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Marc-Andre Fleury may play on Tuesday night for his first game in 2 months following another concussion. Luckily it’s looking like he will be playing against his old friends on Thursday in Vegas. Should be electric.