Frank from Pensburgh was nice enough to accept our request to come in and answer seven fantasy questions about the Penguins, including one of the most important fantasy Q's this offseasons... What's the deal with Crosby.
Check out Frank's answers below and make sure you pay a visit to Pensburgh. You might find this post on potential Penguin breakouts particularly interesting.
If you're interested in FHS' breakout picks and fantasy take on the Pens check out our draft kit which includes The Breakout Bible, the Fantasy Scouting Report (with SuperStats included) and our Fantasy Prospect Database.
BY FRANK D FROM PENSBURGH
Q1) Penguins Breakout of the Year?
In a way I'm hoping it's James Neal. I know he's been in the league for a little while now and probably can't fall into the "breakout player" title, but for a guy who only scored one goal and added five assists in 20 games, I feel a lot of Penguins fans would like to see a little more production from him.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Penguins?
I guess Dustin Jeffrey would fall into this category. The guy had a chance to gain some valuable NHL time last season but was unfortunately derailed by a knee injury. It was his first shot at sticking at the NHL level too. To his credit the Pens front office took notice and re-signed him to a two-year deal this offseason that is two-way for the first year and one-way for the second. The structure of that contract alone proves the front office is willing to be patient with him in his recovery, but if his health improves sooner rather than later they're likely going to give him the promotion.
Q3) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
I'm going to go with Taylor Hall, if a 22-goal, 20-assist rookie season isn't considered a breakout season.
Q4) Player likely to Breakdown on the Penguins?
A guy like Chris Kunitz runs a high risk of physically breaking down because of his style of play, so I'd imagine he'd be a pick for this sort of title. But honestly, if I had to pick, I'd prefer to say "none of them." Especially after last season with all of the injuries that mounted, the fans would love nothing more than to see a healthy team.
Q5) Best Fantasy Prospect on the Penguins?
I don't see many Penguins prospects having a big fantasy impact this season. But if you are asking me who will be a solid consideration for next season, then I'd have to say Simon Despres. Granted he's a defenseman, but the kid has some offensive skills and moves the puck well. I'm actually really excited to see how he pans out with the AHL club this season because he was absolutely dominant with the St. John's Sea Dogs last year. Outside of Despres, I guess it's still worth keeping an eye on Eric Tangradi as well, but his progress with the team has been slow and steady and I don't see how he's going to receive top-line minutes this season (or perhaps at all with the Pens over the next two years or so).
Q6) How do you see the Penguins Goalie Situation playing out this year?
It's Fleury's job, and not Fleury's job to lose. Brent Johnson is a great backup to have on hand and all, but Fleury is the starting netminder on this team and that's not going to change anytime soon.
Q7) You're probably sick of thinking/answering this but we really need to know... is Sidney Crosby going to be ready for the start of the season? How many games do you think he misses this year? What about Evgeni Malkin?
At this point, with all of the reports - which unfortunately you have to try extremely hard to filter out through even more rumors - I'm going to go with the majority and say we shouldn't expect him back on the ice to start the season. I'm not basing that off anything more than a hunch, which just so happens to be just about all you can rely on right now when it comes to fact or fiction and Crosby's status.
Man, after last season I'd love to say zero games missed for both of those guys. Hard to say on Crosby since the season may start with a few missed games. As for Malkin, the word coming out of Russia (including that of former Pen Sergei Gonchar) is that Evgeni spent the entire offseason rehabbing his knee. The hope is that he'll come back stronger than before, but the previous version of Malkin wasn't too shabby either.