More signs point to depth defenseman Chad Ruhwedel becoming a regular in the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup. The available low-cost right-side defensemen are almost gone from the NHL free-agent market. Now, the Penguins options for a stable NHL veteran to balance newly acquired Mike Matheson are few, if any.
GM Jim Rutherford has admitted Matheson must clean up his game. So, the Penguins’ right-side defenseman on the third pairing will have his hands full, not only with opponents but with Matheson, too.
Ruhwedel is the third right-side defender on the Penguins roster. In short, he’s up.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now asked a range of hockey people from scouts to hockey professionals, whose job titles would give away their identity. We asked a simple question: Can Chad Ruhwedel handle everyday duty?
The Penguins defender, whom the Buffalo Sabres organization mostly relegated to the AHL, signed with the Penguins as a free agent on July 1, 2017. He shuffled back and forth between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton but stayed in the NHL permanently beginning in 2017-18.
He has never played more than 44 games in a season and has never been given much more than spot starts for injured top-six defenders. But now it appears the 30-year-old blueliner will have his name on the lineup sheet most nights and not have a steady diet of press box nachos.
What do the professionals think?