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On Mancari’s Signing & Portland’s Forwards

08/11/10
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No one else is reporting it, but the venerable Cap Geek is listing Mancari as having accepted his qualifying offer from the Buffalo Sabres and will play in Portland in October. How’s that mess with the winger situation for the Pirates? Let’s have a look

Mark Mancari…what in the hell? The guy is big (6’4″, 225lbs), has a disgusting shot (102.8 mph – hardest in the AHL), and produces consistently at the AHL level (59.2 points a season, with every point total higher than the season prior), but he just can’t make that next step to perform in the NHL. He certainly won’t be the first offensive call-up to the Sabres due to injuries – Nathan Gerbe has that on lock-down and Luke Adam is expected to fill the second back-up slot. But what I’m curious about is how do Portland’s forwards shake out now that the big righty is under contract.

As you may remember, I put together a big, rambly post about the Pirates that addressed every position. I’m gonna go ahead and further expound on the forwards in this entry.

At this point, Nathan Gerbe doesn’t appear to be making the Sabres out of camp, so let’s go ahead and pencil together a top line of Gerbe-Adam-Mancari. You’ve got an AHL rookie of the year on the LW, a possible candidate for rookie of the year at C, and a big body who has never scored less than the season before playing RW. Yep, I like it.

The second line will probably consist of Derek Whitmore at LW, diminutive Paul Byron at C, and Corey Tropp at RW. I’d imagine the third line will sport Jacob Lagace at RW, but I’m not quite sure who’d play center and LW for that line. Schutz and Turnbull would be my guesses, with the only decision to be made being which position each kid plays. That leaves a fourth line of Tim Conboy and Dennis McCauley on each wing with an opening at center.

One possibility is Lagace could switch to LW to form a second line of Lagace-Byron-Tropp, which would give Portland a third line consisting of Whitmore-Schutz/Turnbull-Turnbull/Schutz.

By re-signing Marc-Andre Gragnani to complete the defense and acquiring David Leggio to back-up Jhonas Enroth, the opening at fourth line center is the only vacancy left for Darcy Regier to fill before the Pirates can ice a full squad in October.

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