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Penguins

Move to wing still 'on the table' for Penguins' Derick Brassard, coach says

Jonathan Bombulie
| Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, 2:24 p.m.
The Penguins could bump Derick Brassard to a wing spot alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin because of a glut of centers.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins could bump Derick Brassard to a wing spot alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin because of a glut of centers.

Derick Brassard has returned to practice after an illness sidelined him early in training camp. Pittsburgh Penguins regulars are about to make their preseason debuts as the team plays a pair of home exhibition games this weekend.

With that, one of the offseason’s most burning questions is about to be answered.

How serious are the Penguins about moving Brassard from his third-line center spot to a top-six wing position?

We’ll soon find out.

“Is it something you guys may see at some point here through the exhibition season? Yes, you might,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “Is our mind made up on what we want to do? No, it isn’t.”

The case for trying Brassard on the wing isn’t hard to follow. The move would give the Penguins a boost of scoring and skill on the left side of the top two lines and allow Brassard to get a few more minutes of ice time than he might on the third line. They have enough center depth to backfill his old spot, too.

The case against is just as compelling. The biggest upside to acquiring Brassard from the Ottawa Senators last season was that the Penguins would go three-deep in skilled centers. It’s a potential matchup problem for any defense.

As he ponders his options, Sullivan said his goal is to maximize the roster.

“We love the strength that we have down the middle. All of us believe that’s an important element of having a competitive team. Certainly when we have Brass in the middle, we’re pretty strong down the middle,” Sullivan said. “But he’s also a versatile player, and depending on how things go, that is an option that is on the table and we’re not going to take it off.”

Sullivan, for what it’s worth, said he also noticed he persistent media chatter about the topic in the offseason.

“It’s been well chronicled by you guys,” he said with a grin. “No one seems to be short of an opinion on that either.”

Keep up with the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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