ShareThis Page
Potential position switch doesn’t faze newest Penguins | TribLIVE.com
Penguins/NHL

Potential position switch doesn’t faze newest Penguins

Jonathan Bombulie
| Monday, February 4, 2019 3:08 p.m
711476_web1_703198-c1f15cd2f5374d1aa5b954477f02d047
Canadian Press via AP
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) and Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bjugstad (27) battle during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019.

Newly acquired Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jared McCann hasn’t exactly made the smoothest of transitions from the climate of South Florida to his new home in Western Pennsylvania.

“I might have to go to the mall and pick up some more pants. I brought a lot of shorts for some reason,” he joked after practice Monday in Cranberry.

The transition should be much easier if the Penguins ask him to leave his familiar position of center to play on the wing.

When the Penguins made the trade to pick up McCann and Nick Bjugstad from the Florida Panthers for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and three draft picks on Friday, both general manager Jim Rutherford and coach Mike Sullivan raved about the lineup versatility the move gives the team.

McCann and Bjugstad both confirmed that theory Monday. If either has any misgivings about moving from center to wing and back, they hid them well.

“Anywhere I’ll play,” McCann said. “I played a little bit of wing in Vancouver my first year. I feel like I can pick things up pretty quickly. It’s a great opportunity.”

Bjugstad’s case might be the more intriguing one.

He centered Bryan Rust and Phil Kessel on the team’s second line in his first two games with the Penguins, but once Evgeni Malkin returns from an upper-body injury – he skated on his own before practice Monday – that could change.

“We can use him as a third-line center if we so choose, and he’d be very good at that, but he’s also an offensively gifted player that has the ability to play in a top-six capacity,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “It just gives us a lot of flexibility.”

Bjugstad probably had his greatest success in Florida playing on the wing with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. A stint on the right side with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel could be in his future.

“I don’t really have a preference,” Bjugstad said. “I played center basically my whole life growing up. Last few years, I’ve played in and out, mostly wing. There’s advantages to both, definitely. Wherever they put me, I’ll be happy. Obviously this is a deep lineup, lots of good players to play with.”

Follow 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.


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

Categories: Sports | Penguins
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.