The Pittsburgh Penguins confirmed that Chad Ruhwedel and Marcus Pettersson would play Thursday night against the Florida Panthers at PPG Paints Arena. Both were activated from the COVID protocol and will be in the lineup.
To make room for the pair, the Penguins demoted defensemen Juuso Riikola and Taylor Fedun.
Riikola played four games this season–the most he’s played consecutively in two years. However, things didn’t go so well. Riikola made a few mistakes and was not consistently in position. He didn’t play more than 10 minutes in the last few games, though he had one assist.
Riikola, 28, is in the second year of his two-year contract, which carries a $1.15 million AAV. The Penguins recoup $1.05 million of salary-cap space by sending him down.
Pettersson had a solid start to the season. He has four points (1-3-4) in eight games and is a team-high plus-7. The lanky Swede will resume his third-pairing duty with Ruhwedel.
Ruhwedel, 31, is an NHL regular for the first time in his career. He doesn’t have any points in eight games. Based on the Pittsburgh Penguins practice on Wednesday, he will also resume his third-pairing role beside Pettersson.
The Penguins should get Sidney Crosby and Brian Dumoulin back from COVID protocol on Saturday. Barring additional positive tests or bad luck on Thursday night, the Penguins could have their healthiest roster of the season.