Thoughts On WBS Preseason Opener & NHL Roster Battles

Thursday, October 2, 2014
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins opened their preseason with win last night. Photo credit: @ItsJacki.
Some quick thoughts, a closer look at last night's 4-2 win over Utica and the roster battles up front in Pittsburgh.
  • The line of Conor Sheary, Anton Zlobin and Bryan Rust dominated this one. It's only preseason but all of these young forwards are looking to make a final impression before the season starts next Saturday night.
  • The Pens blue line was solid in their own zone for the most part. As a team, they went 8/8 on the penalty kill. Nick D'Agostino added some offensive flare from the back end.
  • Both goaltenders saw time in net but both were rarely tested. Hartzell made some nice stops on a 5-on-3 early, but for the most part Utica had trouble generating offense at even strength.

1st: WBS - Rust (1) - Sheary, Zlobin at 10:13
1st: WBS - (PP) Wilson (1) - D'Agostino, Megna at 14:43
2nd: WBS - Sheary (1) - Rust, Zlobin at 1:44
3rd: UTI - Banks (1) - Sanguinetti at 1:34
3rd: WBS - D-Agostino (1) - Zlobin, Sheary at 7:45
3rd: UTI - Gaunce (1) - Legein at 18:55

ROSTER NOTES - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Eric Hartzell got the start in net for the Penguins, stopping all nine shots he faced in 30:56 of work. Matt Murray got the second half of the game, stopping nine of 11 in 29:04 played.

With a lot of the veterans out of the lineup (see below), Barry Goers, Jayson Megna and Adam Payerl wore alternate captain A's for the game.

Scratches: Nolan Schaefer, Philip Samuelsson, Nick Drazenovic (day-to-day), Patrick McGrath (lower body), Tom Kostopoulos, Dominik Uher, Kevin Ryan and Jonathan Narbonne were the scratches.

Lines (Starters in bold)

Zlobin (0G-3A) - Sheary (1G-2A) - Rust (1G-1A)
Kuhnhackl (5 PIM) - Megna (0G-1A) - Rowney
Wilson (1G-0A) - Dea - Archibald
Murovich - Marcantuoni - Payerl (7 PIM)

McNeill - Goers
D'Agostino (1G-1A) - Ruopp
Boak - Seymour


Pittsburgh Forward Core

Another puzzle piece slid into place in the battle for roster spots in Pittsburgh as forward Daniel Carcillo was released from his professional tryout. That leaves Kasperi Kapanen, Oskar Sundqvist, Zach Sill, Andrew Ebbett and Bobby Farnham as the remaining bubble players up front for the Penguins.

While all are AHL-eligible - some have to clear waivers - it is also possible that the Penguins will return Kasperi Kapanen overseas. Oskar Sundqvist is still under contract with Skelleftea, so it's likely it's NHL or back to the SHL for Sundqvist as well.

Here's a look at the remaining forwards on Pittsburgh's roster currently:

Forwards (17) - Craig Adams, Beau Bennett*, Blake Comeau, Sidney Crosby, Steve Downie, Pascal Dupuis, Andrew Ebbett, Bobby Farnham, Marcel Goc, Patric Hornqvist, Kasperi Kapanen, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin*, Zach Sill, Nic Spaling, Oskar Sundqvist and Brandon Sutter.

With Beau Bennett on the shelf again (this time 4-6 weeks) and Evgeni Malkin's status for opening night next Thursday up in the air, it's likely that two of the five bubble forwards - Ebbett, Farnham, Kapanen, Sill and Sundqvist - will at least start the season in the NHL. 

Coincidentally, two of the five need to clear waivers in order to be re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) in Andrew Ebbett and Zach Sill. 

We have already seen some popular choices for NHL forwards in waiver-exempt guys like Adam Payerl and Jayson Megna sent back to the minors already. Another thing to consider is that WBS Penguins head coach John Hynes has already moved Megna and Sheary - guys who played on the wing last season - over to the middle.

Perhaps the AHL Penguins aren't planning to have centers Sill or Ebbett back to start the season, though flexibility up front isn't a bad thing to have by giving other guys some preseason minutes at the center position.

Can a guy like Kapanen or Sundqvist force the Penguins to expose a guy like Sill or Ebbett on the waiver wire? 


jmizz said...

Tony, my thought is Pitt needs the grit of Sill, and we need Ebbet's scoring. What are yours?

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