Decision Time 10/6

Monday, October 6, 2014
With both Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton having a day off from on-ice practice, management and staff are probably making their final cuts this afternoon in advance of tomorrow's NHL roster deadline.

After the jump, a look at the rosters for both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and what's left for Pittsburgh to trim. I'll have a similar breakdown for the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms later this week. 


Goalies (2) - Marc Andre Fleury and Thomas Greiss
  • The Penguins waived Jeff Zatkoff and re-assigned him to the AHL, so Greiss and Fleury start the season as the duo in Pittsburgh. 
Defensemen (10) - Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, Paul Martin, Olli Maatta*, Robert Scuderi, Simon Despres, Robert Bortuzzo*, Derrick Pouliot*, Scott Harrington and Taylor Chorney.
  • If Olli Maatta is ready for the season opener, then one of Harrington or Chorney will be sent to the AHL. Chorney cleared waivers over the weekend but remains on the NHL roster. He can do so and be waiver exempt for the next 30 days or 10 games played.
Forwards (16) - Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Evgeni Malkin*, Beau Bennett* Patric Hornqvist, Brandon Sutter, Kasperi Kapanen, Steve Downie, Nick Spaling, Marcel Goc, Blake Comeau, Craig Adams, Oskar Sundqvist, Zach Sill and Andrew Ebbett
  • Here's where it gets interesting. Sill and Ebbett cleared waivers over the weekend and like Chorney, remain on the NHL roster. Kapanen and Sundqvist - while both are AHL eligible - will likely head back overseas if they don't make the NHL roster.
  • With 28 guys on the roster currently, it is likely we will see a few paper transactions to get the Pens under the 23-man limit. Bennett, Bortuzzo and Pouliot will all placed on injured reserve and will not count against the roster max, but that still only brings the roster to 25. 
  • Since the Penguins have cleared several players through waivers over the weekend, they can freely re-assign any of Chorney, Harrington, Ebbett, Sill, Kapanen and Sundqvist to the AHL without having to worry about waivers. The Pens might have to re-assign quite a few of those guys, albeit on paper until the Pens can put guys on injured reserve.

Goalies (3) - Jeff Zatkoff, Matt Murray and Eric Hartzell
  • With Zatkoff clearing waivers, Nolan Schaefer was released from his tryout. I think Murray wins out the battle for the backup job, but not just because Hartzell allowed six goals in the AHL Pens' preseason finale last night. Yes, I think Murray is the better goalie but you have to take into account that the Pens lineup was stronger and their competition weaker with Murray in net and the opposite when Hartzell was between the pipes.
Defensemen (10) - Brian Dumoulin, Philip Samuelsson, Reid McNeill, Harrison Ruopp, Barry Goers (AHL), Nick D'Agostino, Clark Seymour (AHL), Alex Boak (AHL), Kevin Ryan (tryout) and Jonathan Narbonne (tryout)
  • Even if Pittsburgh keeps both Harrington and Chorney for the first 9 games of the season, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's blue line will be its strength as well as team defense in general. I think you'll see the two tryout defensemen released and possibly in Wheeling's ECHL camp. (EDIT: Ryan and Narbonne are already under contracts with ECHL clubs and won't head to Wheeling if they don't make the AHL Pens roster.) I'd also expect to see Seymour and Boak re-assigned to Wheeling not long after the start of the season and a three-way battle between Ruopp. Goers and D'Agostino for the two spots on the third pairing if/when a defenseman returns from Pittsburgh.
Forwards (18) Tom Kostopoulos (AHL), Nick Drazenovic, Anton Zlobin, Conor Sheary (AHL), Jayson Megna, Josh Archibald, Dominik Uher, Adam Payerl, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Bobby Farnham, Bryan Rust, Matia Marcantuoni, Tom Kuhnhackl. J-S Dea, Scott Wilson, Carter Rowney (AHL), Tyler Murovich (tryout) and Patrick McGrath (ECHL)
  • There could be as many as 5-6 rookie forwards on the opening night roster, a sharp change to years past. They won't just be on the roster either. Guys like Conor Sheary, Josh Archibald, Matia Marcantuoni and Bryan Rust will look to make the opening night lineup and be regular contributors at the AHL level.
  • There isn't a roster max in the AHL, but at the same time you don't want too many prospects sitting and not getting ice time. That being said, outside of re-assigning McGrath back to Wheeling and either signing Murovich to an AHL deal or releasing him and seeing if he ends up in the ECHL, it's not out of the question for the AHL Penguins to start with as many as 15-16 forwards while they wait to see what Pittsburgh does. 
  • My bubble forwards, in order of liking their chances to start the year in the AHL: Bryan Rust, Matia Marcantuoni, Tom Kuhnhackl, J-S Dea, Scott Wilson and Carter Rowney.


Anonymous said...

Not that it makes much difference, but in your section on the AHL D you suggested that the PTOs could wind up in Wheeling. However, Narbonne is signed by the Bakersfield Condors while Ryan is signed by the Utah Grizzlies, so they would be returning to their respective ECHL teams rather than the Nailers.

TonyAndrock said...

Thanks for that.

ironpigpen said...

Important season for the third-year pro Kuhnhackl

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