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Together again

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Blackhawks traded former Penguins center Robert Lang to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft. The move reunites Lang with another former Penguin, right wing Alex Kovalev. They were two-thirds of a pretty mean line during the Penguins' 2000-01 season. Along with Martin Straka, that threesome formed what was arguably the most productive second line in team history.

Kovalev (95 points), Straka (95) and Lang (80) all reached career highs in points that season while operating as the Penguins' second line for most of the season behind Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and whoever was lucky enough to get stuck with those two. A combined total of 270 points from players composing any one line, let alone a second line, is scary. And when you consider this took place in the middle of the NHL's "dead puck" era, you can really gain an appreciation for what they accomplished.

Does this mean the Habs are going to carve out a hole on the top line and stick Lang with Kovalev? Probably not. He's better suited for second-line duty. But considering Montreal had courted free agent center Mats Sundin this offseason, they obviously felt a need to upgrade the position. So anything is possible.

The 37-year-old Lang can still play. He had 21 goals and 54 points as the Blackhawks' second center last season. Additionally, he had three game-winning goals, averaged 18:35 of ice time and won 53.1 percent of his faceoffs.

Chicago simply made this move to dump some salary. After giving free agent defenseman Brian Campbell and goaltender Cristobal Huet keys to their own Brinks trucks, the Blackhawks needed to create some room under the salary cap. The move puts them $1.5 million under the cap.

Aside from upgrading the center position, the Canadiens were clearly motivated by increasing the number of ex-Penguins on their roster. The addition of Lang give them four and ties them with the Thrashers for the second-most in the league. A quick call to the agents of free agent goaltenders Jean-Sebastien Aubin or Jocelyn Thibault, and they have the lead all to themselves.

A quick look at the numbers of former Penguins who are officially in some NHL team's organization:

  • Lightning (5)  - Adam Hall, Ryan Malone, Michel Ouellet, Mark Recchi, Gary Roberts
  • Canadiens (4) - Tom Kostopoulos, Alex Kovalev, Robert Lang, Georges Laraque
  • Thrashers (4) - Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Johan Hedberg, Chris Thorburn
  • Islanders (3) - Andy Hilbert, Richard Park, Jon Sim
  • Red Wings (3) - Ty Conklin, Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson
  • Stars (3) - Toby Petersen, Landon Wilson, Sergei Zubov
  • Flames (2) - Wayne Primeau, Andre Roy
  • Rangers (2) - Markus Naslund, Michal Rozsival
  • Senators (2) - Shean Donovan, Jarkko Ruutu
  • Avalanche (1) - Nathan Smith
  • Blackhawks (1) - Tim Brent
  • Bruins (1) - Andrew Ference
  • Canucks (1) - Nolan Baumgartner
  • Capitals (1) - Matt Bradley
  • Ducks (1) - Eric Boguniecki
  • Hurricanes (1)  - Josef Melichar
  • Maple Leafs (1)  - Dominic Moore
  • Panthers (1) - Noah Welch
  • Sabres (1) - Patrick Lalime

The Blue Jackets, Blues, Coyotes, Devils, Flyers, Kings, Oilers, Predators, Sharks and Wild do not have a former Penguin on their roster. Players such as Ross Lupaschuk and Petr Nedved who will be in NHL camps on tryouts are not included on this list.

(Photo: Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS

Penguins

-By the sounds of things, Penguins prospect Keven Veilleux could help Marc-Andre Fleury or Michel Therrien with their English.

-Jonathan Bombulie of the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice says there's a lot less buzz about this season's rookie camp than in years past.

-Alex Goligoski and Luca Caputi are rock stars.

-Can Matt Cooke replace Jarkko Ruutu?

-Eric Politowski at Faceoff-Factor scored an interview with Penguins prospect Paul Bissonnette.

-The Wheeling Nailers re-signed former Robert Morris forward Sean Berkstresser.

Atlantic Division

-The Devils re-signed restricted free agent forward Rod Pelley to a two-year deal. Additionally, New Jersey traded defenseman Sean Zimmerman to Phoenix for forward Kevin Cormier.

-Islanders forward Mike Sillinger is still dealing with a hip injury.

-It's doubtful you'll find another list with Oprah Winfrey, Rush Limbaugh and former Flyers captain Eric Lindros on it today. So you might as well click this link.

Northeast Division

-The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Patrice Brisebois.

-At a press conference to announce his No. 33 would be retired, Patrick Roy put on a Canadiens jersey for the first time in almost 13 years.

-Maple Leafs fans are jumping off the bandwagon.

-Senators general manager Bryan Murray is a fan of former Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu all of a sudden.

-If you're up on your Finnish, here's an interview with Ruutu:

[View:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6PtGmpZvj0]

Southeast Division

-Because they don't have enough players with Penguins connections on their roster, the Lightning's management will give former Penguins first-round pick Jamie Heward a tryout. Heward, a defenseman the Penguins drafted in 1989, played in Russia last season. (Kudos to Japers' Rink for the find.)

-Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier is still dealing with a shoulder injury.

-Apparently not content with simply scoring goals on his own net, Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom decided to skate right into the dang thing and ended up spraining his ankle.

-The Sidney Crosby Show spotted something a little out of date on the Thrashers' Web site.

-With only 69 games scheduled to be televised this season, the Lightning is making efforts to get its other 13 contests broadcast by over the air stations.

Central Division

-As indicated in the Chicago Tribune story we linked to concerning the Robert Lang trade, the Blackhawks will bring in free agent forwards Kevyn Adams and Geoff Sanderson on a tryout basis.

-Blue Jackets first-round draft pick Nikita Filatov is dealing with a leg injury.

-Because there hasn't been enough troubles with text messaging in Detroit, a service the Red Wings use inadvertently distributed false text message updates to subscribers indicating former captain Steve Yzerman would be coming out of retirement.

Northwest Division

-The Wild is still trying to work on a contract extension with forward Marian Gaborik.

-New Flames forward Michael Cammalleri is a fan of IKEA.

Pacific Division

-Coyotes forward and former Penguins prospect Daniel Carcillo wants to add some more offense to his game.

-Forward Jeff Friesen is eager over his tryout with the Sharks.

Adams Division

-Would be Penguins and Predators owner Jim Balsillie still wants to own a NHL team.

-NHL2K9 has a very punk feel to it.

-The NHL and NHLPA are fighting over the league's pension plan.

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