Penguins LW Ryan Malone grew up in the South Hills, so it's no surprise that he spent a lot of time watching Mario Lemieux and Ron Francis when he was a kid. Those aren't the only players who Malone tried to pattern himself after, however. He cites Philadelphia C Keith Primeau as a player he has learned a lot by watching. "He can pretty much do everything," Malone said. "He has the size, the reach and he uses it to his advantage." The most important thing he picked up from Primeau might be that it's critical to avoid being one-dimensional. "He did everything, and I learned when I was young that you need a backup game so that when you're not scoring goals, you can be a defensive player or a faceoff guy," Malone said. "Hopefully, you can stay in this league a long time if you have a bunch of different games."
Malone's biggest upside is his determination / will to get after the puck. Everything that's good about his game follows that instinct IMO. I don't think he'll ever be a big points man, but as he matures he could definitely become a very solid checking forward. I think if he works on his physical strength and his agility over the next couple years, the rest should fall into place as long as he doesn't lose his work ethic on the ice.
Koltsov, for now, has two major assets to his game. Blinding speed and the willingness to mix it up along the boards without any hesitation. And, unlike many pure skaters from overseas, he doesn't seem to shy away from physical contact. IOW, he doesn't keep himself in open space all the time, waiting for the puck to come to him. He goes and gets it more often than he waits for it. His weakest point is that he should probably get more chances / shoot more than he does. I think if he works hard on his puck control in close, and on his scoring touch next summer, he could easily become a 30 or 40 point guy... even on this team.
Orpik has big upside. He skates well for his size, he doesn't panic with the puck in his own zone, and he can deliver timely, bone-crushing hits. While Josef Melichar has been our best young Dman the last season or so (and probably to this point), I think Orpik will have that title by season's end. While he's done a good job of it in some games, I think he needs to continue honing his instincts when the other team has the puck close-in to the net. He's good at abusing other players who stand in the crease (thank God!) but at times he gets caught in bad position and a goal results. I'd also like to see him work on his all-around skating technique this summer (speed and agility in particular). He's not bad in these areas, but if he became really *good* in these areas, he's a potential All-Star defensman.
I haven't seen Welch enough to comment but all the fans I've talked to who have seen him seem very enthusiastic.