CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa — The Pittsburgh Penguins finalized their NHL roster Monday, one day ahead of the Tuesday 5 p.m. deadline. Not unexpectedly, the Penguins sent defenseman Zach Trotman to the WBS Penguins. Somewhat surprisingly, the team also sent physical forward Zach Aston-Reese to the WBS Penguins and kept forward Derek Grant on the NHL roster.
The Penguins will eventually send one more player to WBS Penguins but goalie Tristan Jarry is injured. Also, an injury to defenseman Brian Dumoulin allowed the Penguins to keep 24-year-old Finnish defenseman Juuso Riikola on the NHL until Dumoulin is cleared to play. They may also keep him beyond that.
The Penguins backup goalie job was a contest between Casey DeSmith and Jarry. However, Jarry’s injury means DeSmith will be the backup.
Aston-Reese was the last forward left in training camp with the option to send to the AHL without passing through waivers. If the Penguins elected to demote Grant, the team would be forced to subject to him to waivers before he could report to the AHL. Grant signed a one-year, NHL contract in July for $650,000. The Penguins would not have received a salary cap penalty for demoting Grant but they would have been obligated to pay his NHL salary if he cleared waivers.
Aston-Reese was a college free agent who signed with the Penguins last summer after four years at Northeastern. He was called up from WBS Penguins in February and had six points (4g, 2a) over an eight-game stretch before he suffered an upper-body injury which kept him out of the lineup for over a month.
Aston-Reese was also a fixture in the lineup during the playoffs but recorded only one assist in nine games before reckless Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson levied a vicious headshot. Wilson’s hit broke Aston-Reese’s jaw and concussed the Penguins forward. Wilson received a stiff three-game suspension.
Wilson is in trouble again. He blindsided former Penguins center Oskar Sundqvist, now of St. Louis, yesterday. The NHL Department of Player Safety has offered Wilson an in-person hearing for the hit.
Trotman, 28, has spent most of his career in the AHL. His six year professional career includes 70 NHL games spread over four seasons and two teams, the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins. Trotman has three career NHL goals and nine assists in those games. Like Aston-Reese, Trotman is also a former college player. He spent three years at Lake Superior State.
Trotman played three games for the Penguins last season but was scoreless. He also played 49 contests for the WBS Penguins where he scored 17 points (7g, 10a).
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