Hours before the Pittsburgh Penguins open the season Tuesday at Tampa Bay against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning, their roster has come into more focus — for now.
As expected, bottom-six forward Brian Boyle has signed a one-year contract for the NHL minimum of $750,000. The 6-foot-6 veteran has not played an NHL game since Feb. 1, 2020, but he earned the contract while on a professional tryout during training camp. The 36-year-old adds a physical element as well as penalty killing and faceoff skill. He would not have been eligible to play until he signed.
“Really grateful and appreciative of the opportunity,” Boyle said. “I’m excited to do what I love to do.”
In addition, center Evgeni Malkin has been placed on long-term injured reserve, giving the Penguins some salary cap relief. Malkin, who had offseason knee surgery, is expected to be out at least until sometime in December.
Fellow cornerstone center Sidney Crosby, who is practicing but not quite ready to play after wrist surgery, has been designated as injured non-roster. Don’t panic. That will seemingly change soon enough. He traveled with the team for its two-game trip to the state of Florida so he can continue to practice and told ESPN during a taped interview Monday that he expects to be a week or two away from playing. That would fit with the original expectation of missing six weeks or more.
Zach Aston-Reese has been added to the NHL’s COVID-19 procotol list. He has been practicing, too, but already has been ruled out for the Tampa game.
There has been no change to the official status of top-line winger Jake Guentzel, who like Aston-Reese recently tested positive for COVID-19, but unlike Aston-Reese was asymptomatic. He also has been ruled out for Tuesday night.
Now for the additions. Forwards Drew O’Connor and Anthony Angello have been recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.
Both Angello and, especially, O’Connor had strong training camps, so their recall after not being on the roster that had to be submitted to the NHL by 5 p.m. Monday is not at all a surprise. They earned the chance to open the season with the club, and being sent to Wilkes-Barre was a paper move given the flux with a few other players.
More roster decisions will need to be made as players such as Crosby and Aston-Reese get ready to return, but for now the Pittsburgh Penguins have their guys in place and Brian Boyle is the fourth line center.
Here is how the official roster stands for Tuesday’s game:
Anthony Angello, Teddy Blueger, Brian Boyle, Jeff Carter, Casey DeSmith, Brian Dumoulin, Mark Friedman, Jake Guentzel, Danton Heinen, Tristan Jarry, Kasperi Kapanen, Sam Lafferty, Kris Letang, John Marino, Mike Matheson, Brock McGinn, Drew O’Connor, Marcus Pettersson, Evan Rodrigues, Chad Ruhwedel, Bryan Rust, Dominik Simon, Jason Zucker.
Injured and/or Non-Roster: Zach Aston-Reese, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin.