The most consistent first line the Penguins have iced in the new-NHL era consisted of Sidney Crosby centering Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin. If anyone would like to argue that, just bring up that in 2009, it was that very first line that brought the Stanley Cup home to Pittsburgh.
All three of those names above are still currently with the organization, but only two of them remain as players. Guerin is now the Player Development Coach, working with the Pens prospects from juniors, college, Wheeling, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Grinding winger Chris Kunitz has proven that he can open up plenty of space for his center, whether that be Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. But with Malkin and top sniper James Neal conjoined at the hip for the next two years at least, it is time for the “Honey Badger” to re-join his original center.
This leaves an open spot on the other side of #87, and we believe that Shane Doan (UFA) could be a great fit over there.
The 35-year-old right winger (with a right-handed shot) will hit free agency on July 9th, his agent announced. It has not been made clear whether or not he is willing to leave the Coyotes organization yet, however. The mantra with the Canadian veteran is his never-give-up attitude and gritty style of play have always come up short of winning a Championship, due to the lack of talent around him.
This past season with the Coyotes, Doan posted 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) and 48 PIM in 79 games. Imagine what he could potentially produce on with the Kunitz-Crosby tandem.
Doan is at his best when he is physical and finishing all of his checks. He also extremely savvy with the puck, an elite two-way player, and a team-first guy. Just the type of player Crosby excels with.
It’s no secret that the Pens have been lacking “that” veteran that can keep the locker room loose but accountable. If Doan decides to cut ties with Phoenix, he will receive an offer from the Penguins, most certainly.