Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport
From 2008 until 2012, the Pens had probably the best third line in the NHL in Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy.
With Matt Cooke signing on with the Minnesota Wild and the trade of Tyler Kennedy to the San Jose Sharks, the Pens will need to retool their third line in the hopes that it performs up to the level that the previous one did.
Having signed Matt D’Agostini to a one year deal and with Jussi Jokinen, dubbed the “Finnish army knife” for his versatility by former Pen Phil Borque, returning for the final year of his three-year contract, the Pens will be looking to the third line to not only provide speed and a consistent forecheck but also contribute offensively.
To complicate matters, the Pens coaching staff may decide that Beau Bennett is not ready for a top-six role and move him down to the third line. In addition, the Pens are currently a little more than $1 million over the salary cap, and Jussi Jokinen (making $2.1 million this year) has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate to clear salary.
With all of these variables, the question for the third line, whoever is on it, is whether they will be able to produce enough offensively to take pressure off of the top two lines.
If not, the Pens may not have the cap space or the assets to bring in help.