Could Pittsburgh Penguins QMJHL prospects Nathan Legare or Sam Poulin soon make their NHL debut? The NHL agreements with junior hockey are to protect the purity and quality of juniors, but the agreements are not always best for the players or the NHL clubs who quietly help fund the development leagues. The Penguins organizational depth will be tested after just two NHL games, because Pittsburgh hockey culture not only knows high-scoring hockey, it also knows adversity.
Monday, the Penguins made two emergency recalls when they summoned Sam Lafferty and Andrew Agozzino from the WBS Penguins of the AHL.
I received a few DMs and even texts from friends wondering about the possibility of an emergency recall of prospects, Legare or Poulin. The answer is: It is possible but more adversity must visit the Penguins.
Rule 13.12 (i) and (ii).
Emergency recalls may be made when certain conditions are met and those players are exempt from waiver rules but must return to their club of origin immediately upon the conclusion of the emergency.
An NHL team cannot make an emergency recall until they have less than six defensemen, or 12 forwards, or less than two goalies. NHL clubs may recall their junior hockey property on an emergency basis, but not until the third emergency recall. So, if a team was to fall below a threshold and be able to make an emergency recall, the first two recalls would necessarily be from the AHL. For example, the Penguins were down to 10 forwards and are were granted two emergency recalls. If another player was to be injured while the first two emergency recalls are in the lineup, then the Penguins could make a third emergency call.
Nathan Legare or Sam Poulin are not available to the Penguins until the team needs a third player on emergency recall. In other words, if one more forward is injured, both of the Penguins prized would be eligible for an NHL shot.
It doesn’t happen often. Brayden Schenn got the chance with the LA Kings when he was 18-years-old. Sven Baertschi also did with the Vancouver Canucks.
Given the nature of injuries in the NHL and the Penguins’ luck, don’t bet against the scenario becoming possible. The Penguins lack of NHL ready players in the AHL could lead them to make that call if it becomes necessary.
I’d bet on Legare getting the call, first. His game is simple, gritty and he has a better shot than half of the NHL club.
Pittsburgh Penguins Depth
The Penguins organizational depth is vastly improved from last season, though it is still lacking high-end potential. Lafferty will make his NHL debut Tuesday against Winnipeg. The 24-year-old had 49 points (13g, 36a) last season, which was his rookie year in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He showed competence in the preseason against NHL competition but don’t look for a splashy debut.
Lafferty’s job will be to provide steady, mistake-free hockey in sheltered minutes.
Agozzino, 28, has 21 NHL games on is resume. He played 11 games with the Colorado Avalanche last season and scored a goal and an assist. Agozzino is only 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, so he won’t be a physical grinder but should be able to keep up with the Penguins up-tempo style. He had 60 points (26g, 34a) in just 56 games for the Kelly Cup-keeping Colorado Eagles of the AHL last season.
Agozzino doesn’t possess the size or strength to play a hard fourth line role but does have ample playmaking ability. Perhaps the Penguins will pencil him into a top-nine role with Teddy Blueger.
The Penguins gave a serious look to both Nathan Legare and Sam Poulin in the preseason. It isn’t out of the question, but we don’t recommend rooting for more injuries to see it happen.