Insider: Staal ready for power-play spot?
Burning question: Is left wing Jordan Staal ready to fill the power-play spot vacated by departed Ryan Malone?
Breakdown: Staal will open his third NHL season with the opportunity he most craved — to play with fellow top-two overall picks Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the Penguins’ first power-play unit.
PuckSpeak: “It’s a big opportunity for (me). I want to take advantage of it.”
Looking ahead: Staal has scored only seven power-play goals in 163 regular-season games — though, in fairness, he has never played consistently on the top advantage unit.
Malone scored 11 power-play goals last season playing in front of the cage — a position on the ice still new to Staal.
“(As a junior player), I played down low, along the goal line, like where (Miroslav) Satan is (on the Penguins’ power-play set up),” said Staal, who is listed at 6-feet-4, 220 pounds. “I’ve been all over the place. Seems like that’s been happening a lot lately, but as long as I’m out there, I don’t care.”
Assistant coach Mike Yeo, who operates the Penguins’ power play, believes Staal is a great fit in front.
“He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s got great hands,” Yeo said. “With his size, reach and those hands, I really think he’s going to be a great presence for us. He creates traffic by himself.”