The Penguins re-assigned 21 players to the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins, Tuesday, including Daniel Sprong, Teddy Blueger, and Zac Aston-Reese. In the process, the Penguins likely signaled a coming trade. Defenseman Derrick Pouliot remained in the NHL camp but that certainly isn’t because his play earned the honor. It has more to do with maintaining Pouliot’s trade value and in the process, the Penguins have signaled a trade is in the works.
Cards are on the table. Could we finally learn the identity of the Penguins third line center?
Logic dictates, if a trade were not imminent, Pouliot would have been sent through waivers for re-assignment to WBS, as were Zach Trotman and Jarred Tinordi. And only because a trade is imminent would the Penguins fear to lose Pouliot for nothing.
Otherwise, any team would be happy to rid itself of Pouliot and the one-way $800,000 contract. Relieved, actually.
Now, the Penguins have less than a week to complete the deal. They certainly do not want to use one of their 23 roster spots on the defenseman. Even if winger Patric Hornqvist begins the season on IR, keeping Pouliot on the NHL roster would deny the Penguins an NHL capable player.
The great poker game is down to the river card. The Penguins have a week to finally bring the off-season drama to a close, acquire a third line center, and allow Pouliot a fresh start, elsewhere. Or, they could lose the defenseman for nothing because he hasn’t earned a Penguins roster spot and another team is willing to take a chance.
Kuhnhackl vs. Archibald
Tom Sestito remains on the Penguins roster due to injury, but he will not occupy one of the 23 spots on October 4th. The remaining battle, now or when Hornqvist is ready, is 13th forward. 2016 Stanley Cup contributor Tom Kuhnhackl is battling 2017 spark plug Josh Archibald.
Kuhnhackl suffered a significant groin injury last season, which limited his availability and effectiveness. He still seems to lack the quick acceleration which made him a lineup staple before the injury, and he failed to meet Mike Sullivan‘s challenge last season to add more offense. The lack of offense is rumored to have frustrated Sullivan.
Archibald’s reckless abandon fills the 4th line role in a unique way. Archibald’s physical play and hustle provided a spark in the Eastern Conference Final. But, he can be reckless and out of position.
Ryan Reaves will provide the fourth line “thump”, so the Penguins may opt for the better penalty killer, which is Kuhnhackl. If Hornqvist begins the season on IR, and Scott Wilson is elevated to a top-6 role,
If Hornqvist begins the season on IR, and Scott Wilson is elevated to a top-6 role it would be an exciting fourth line with Archibald and Reaves combination of speed and physicality.
Penguin Line Combos
As things currently stand, the Penguins have a great combination of skill, speed, and physicality. They will be able to outscore teams, outskate most teams and hit back when challenged. That’s bad news for the Metro Division. Hornqvist will slide to left wing to fit in the top-6 and the third line is lightning fast.
When you look at that forward lineup, the Penguins are a scary group.
Full list of re-assigned players
Per the Penguins release: Forwards Zach Aston-Reese, Teddy Blueger, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Thomas Di Pauli, Adam Johnson, Sam Miletic, Dominik Simon, Colin Smith, Daniel Sprong, Christian Thomas, Freddie Tiffels and Garrett Wilson; defensemen Lukas Bengtsson, Frank Corrado, Kevin Czuczman, Ethan Prow, Chris Summers, Jarred Tinordi and Zach Trotman; and goalies Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry have all been returned to WBS.
Dea, Wilson, Summers, Czuczman, Tinoradi, Corrado and Trotman all have to clear waivers on Wednesday at noon before they can join WBS.