With Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts off to Pittsburgh South, as well as Sergei Gonchar's indefinite injury (hopefully we hear good news soon) there's a real question about who will join Captain Crosby with letters on their chest and in a leadership role.
There are certainly several solid candidates, most players that make it to the NHL were obviously the best players from their earlier teams (AHL, Major Juniors, College, etc) and have had leadership roles thrust upon them before. FaceOff Factor listed their candidates, here's ours:
Brooks Orpik: He's the longest tenured Penguin and is an increased part of the team, given his contract and his play of late. He's not always the coach's favorite on the ice though, so it wouldn't be that surprising if skipped over.
Petr Sykora: Sykora has the experience of winning Cups and has the respect of his teammates for that calming influence.
Evgeni Malkin: Malkin's more of a lead by example guy and although he has publicly stated he doesn't feel worthy of wearing an A, he's obviously a huge part of the Penguins team and going to be counted on every single night. Like it or not, he's a team leader.
Mark Eaton: Another veteran guy, Eaton's worn the A in Pittsburgh in season's before. Steady as a rock, Eaton is another calming presence on what's still a relatively young team
Maxime Talbot: Talbot's been described by more than one person as the "heartbeat of the team". Max keeps the boys loose and no one in the league has more passion or desire to do what it takes to win.
All in all we think any combination of those listed would make good candidates. Being an alternate captain is really just a mostly honorary recognition of one's leadership. Between the captain and the coaches, talking to the refs is pretty much taken care of. And the players are all professionals, they know what they need to do every night to get ready to play. The Pens have plenty of veteran guys like Ruslan Fedotenko, Hal Gill and Matt Cooke who while probably won't be considered for a formal leadership role will be instrumental in the room and on the ice.