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Alex Galchenyuk’s minor injury opens up a chance for others

A look at the first (minor) injury of note for the Penguins this season

NHL: SEP 19 Preseason - Blue Jackets at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Penguins are dealing with their first NHL caliber injury of the season in the form of a believed minor injury to winger Alex Galchenyuk.

Last night after the game, which Galchenyuk didn’t play but most of the NHL regulars did use as a tune up, Sullivan didn’t sound too concerned. “We chose to hold him out,” Sullivan said. “He’s been dealing with a lower-body injury that’s nagging. We chose to err on the side of caution.”

Maybe he’ll be back in time for the regular season that starts a week from today. But even then, in Galchenyuk’s absence more opportunity is opened up for others.

This benefits no one more than Dominik Kahun. Kahun started the year with the Pens’ top line, but didn’t perform all that well and has bounced around a bit in the last week or so. He looks like a new player that’s very much searching for the right role on his new team, which to be fair is exactly what he is at this point.

But Galchenyuk made a smooth transition into the Pittsburgh lineup, and even Brandon Tanev has had an exciting and positive-looking training camp on the ice. That Kahun hasn’t found his niche or role or really impressed is a bit troubling.

We’ll see how it goes from here, but injury is sometimes what births opportunity in the NHL. Remember that the Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel line was formed largely as a response to Evgeni Malkin being knocked out with an injury and went onto great success because it clicked.

With Galchenyuk out, it’s Kahun who now has taken a spot, this time with Malkin. Can he make the most of it and make a case to remain on Malkin’s line when Galchenyuk returns? Geno needs two wingers after all, and the other side hasn’t really been figured out either.

It’s a great opportunity for Kahun, and one he probably doesn’t get if Galchenyuk doesn’t go down. You would probably figure the Pens don’t want to start a new player like Kahun as a healthy scratch, so he has to play somewhere, but with a third line of Jared McCann - Nick Bjugstad - Patric Hornqvist that has been stable all throughout camp, there’s not too much out there if Kahun can’t stick with Crosby or Malkin.

But the bottom of the lineup is important. Teddy Blueger looks like a mainstay, but numbers are then running thin. It’s down to Kahun, Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon with two spots to play if the team is at full health.

With the team NOT at full health last night, Simon and Aston-Reese both got jerseys for the game. One of them probably wouldn’t have without the Galchenyuk injury. Fittingly enough, they combined on what ended up being the game-winning goal, which eventually ended up with Simon being named the first star of the game.

The ripple effects of one injury can be pretty far-reaching, and certainly were last night for Kahun, Aston-Reese and Simon all because Galchenyuk is a bit dinged up. Last night it was Simon who made the most of it. From here it will be interesting to see if any of those players can do enough with the opportunity they’ve been granted to alter the team’s lineup decisions moving forward.