Score. Score. Score.
Every Pens’ fan I have talked to about the offseason says the same thing, “We need top six wings,” and I couldn’t agree more. We have a plethora of grinding type forwards but very few pure scorers. This issue needs to be addressed immediately.
With the amount of firepower down the middle, the wings have suffered immensely. Crosby and Malkin need go-to players who can use their superior playmaking ability. There are several free agents that could provide the needed scoring for the top two lines.
Alexei Ponikarovsky could be a viable option if the price is right. His numbers weren’t all that flashy, but he still had over 20 goals and is under 30. Perhaps he has not hit his prime quite yet. In a better system of the umbrella, Poni would fill the need for the forward to screen the goalie.
Sergei Kostitsyn is another interesting free agent that would fill a void for the Pens. Sergei has been and underachieving forward for the Canadians but perhaps a change of scenery and the chance to play with fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin might keep Sergei on this side of the Atlantic.
Alexander Radulov is supposedly returning to the NHL, and playing with Olympic teammate Geno could give Pittsburgh the edge it needs to claim his services. Radulov will garner a fair amount of money, probably more than $6 million per season, but it would be worth it to get a legitimate scorer.
Colby Armstrong’s best performances came as a wing to captain and friend, Sidney Crosby. With Atlanta saying they will not resign Armstrong, I think a return is a distinct possibility. Crosby and Armstrong had a unique chemistry together that the Pens have been trying to duplicate with several different players. Armstrong wants $3 million+ per season, but maybe a discount could come into effect with the chance to play with Crosby again.
Another Russian who makes my list of potential signings/trades is Nikoli Filatov. Filatov, a Columbus Blue Jacket, spent last season in the KHL after having a falling out with management about playing in the AHL. With a disgruntled player, a trade is typically not too far after. Filatov is a great talent who might find his stride playing alongside Geno or Crosby.
Atlanta has another cast off who makes my list: Maxim Afinagenov. Afinagenov had a resurgence in Atlanta last year after several disappointing years in Buffalo. He is low risk, high reward as he signed for $800,000 last season and produced 61 points. A viable option if he doesn’t accept an offer from Atlanta.