Sidney Crosby has praised Oskar Sundqvist as a future shutdown third line center who is already tough to play against, but Sundqvist will continue his development in the AHL after being one 17 cuts from Penguins training camp, Monday. Last season was Sundqvist’s first in North America after two seasons with Shelleftea AIK in the Swedish Hockey League. The 22 year old rookie was a third round selection in 2012 and appeared in 18 games last season for the Penguins, with one goal and three assists.
Sundqvist made his NHL debut February 5th at Tampa Bay. He scored his first NHL goal, a short handed tally, against the New York Islanders, April 2. Sundqvist also appeared in two playoff games during the Penguins Stanley Cup run. He was left without a consistent position after the Penguins re-signed Matt Cullen in the off-season. Cullen will skate as the Penguins 4th line center, the position Sundqvist would have likely filled. so the Penguins have opted to give Sundqvist more playing time to develop his offensive game, as well. Last season, Sundqvist played 45 games for the WBS Penguins (5g, 12a).
The camp roster now has 31 players, 19 forwards. The Penguins will likely keep 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and two goalies.
The Sundqvist demotion does come as a small surprise, as other likely AHL bound players are still in camp. With a healthy Scott Wilson, the Penguins have 13 forwards. Jake Guentzel, Carter Rowney, Kevin Porter (who played 41 games for the Penguins last season), and…enforcer Tom Sestito are the remaining forwards battling for the 14th spot. Sestito made an interesting case, Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks with several imposing hits and noticeably effective forechecking. Sestito’s other contributions include ham sized fists, should opponents take too many liberties.
Guentzel has also had shining moments, including a six shot performance, Wednesday against the Blackhawks in Chicago, but the 21 year old without NHL experience will likely marinate for a while longer in the AHL.
Porter, 30, is positionally sound at the NHL level with solid speed and is the likely choice to stay.
The Penguins are off today, but resume camp tomorrow and will host the Detroit Red Wings, Wednesday in a preseason game.