For the entire offseason there has been one question looming for the Pittsburgh Penguins: Who will play wing with Sidney Crosby?
Ever since they traded Jordan Staal, the possibilities have been arriving non-stop. The Penguins wanted Zach Praise, going all-in by making him a significant 10-year, $80 million offer, but eventually lost out to the Minnesota Wild.
Then the idea came of trading for former Columbus star Rick Nash. That too failed as Ray Shero was beaten out by the rival New York Rangers.
There also have been rumors of Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan coming to Pittsburgh to play with Crosby, but at this time there have been no news of anything happening between the two teams.
Finally, it has been said that the Penguins were trying to bring 35-year-old Shane Doan to Pittsburgh. While the Pens remain high on his list, Doan said he won’t reveal his decision until September 15th. However it is widely rumored that Doan wants to stay in Phoenix and that the Coyotes made him a four-year offer, so it doesn’t appear that Doan will be going anywhere.
After striking out on every big name out there in free agency, what is Plan B for the Penguins?
They need to look no further than to their farm system and the University of Denver’s Beau Bennett.
Ever since the Penguins drafted Bennett in the first round of the 2010 NHL entry draft, the idea was to play him with one of the big two, Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
Bennett, at the young age of 20, has the legs to skate and keep up with Crosby. You put Bennett and Pascal Dupuis on Crosby’s flanks and the opposing defense are going to have a tough time keeping up with them late in games.
In his sophomore year at Denver Bennett was on a torrid pace, posting 13 points in 10 games. However, a wrist injury ended his season before it had a chance to really take off.
Bennett has shown an impressive arsenal of dekes and crafty ways of getting his shot off in practice, drills and games. With Crosby’s playmaking skills, the two could be the next great duo to wear the black and gold.
Sometimes the best move is not spending the money but rather staying in-house and promoting from within.