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Archibald: Returning to Penguins Was His ‘Best Option’

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CRANBERRY — Josh Archibald is a blue-collar winger, one of quite a few in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp.

There are more of them, in fact, than there are spots available on the regular-season roster.

Who will end up with those positions remains to be seen, but Archibald, signed as a free agent this summer, seems confident that he’ll get one.

“I don’t think I would have come here if I didn’t think there wasn’t an opportunity to play,” he said. “With what the organization said to me and the conversations we’ve had since I’ve been here and over the summer, I just have to go out there and play my game, and I’ll get every opportunity that I deserve.”

Archibald’s only opportunity during the Penguins’ first three exhibition games came during their 5-1 loss in Columbus Sunday night.

He and Danton Heinen, both of whom were plus-1, were the only Penguins players to end up on the right side of that stat, but Archibald also was on the ice for both power-play goals the Blue Jackets scored.

That’s significant, because Archibald’s work when his team is shorthanded is one of the things that prompted the Penguins to sign him to a one-year, $900,000 contract.

Penalty-killing has been a problem to this point of the preseason; the Penguins have given up six goals in eight shorthanded situations. That stat will improve as Mike Sullivan and his staff begin to place more emphasis on special-teams play, and Archibald feels he can establish himself as an integral member of that unit.

The Penguins are auditioning forwards to work on the penalty-kill, since a couple of vacancies were created earlier this year when Zach Aston-Reese was dealt to Anaheim at the trade deadline and Brian Boyle’s contract expired. Their need dovetails with Archibald’s history of solid shorthanded work.

“It’s one of the biggest things for the team, obviously,” he said. “To be able to be good on the penalty-kill and consistent on the penalty-kill, that’s a big part of my game and I take a lot of pride in it.”

Archibald averaged one minute, 28 seconds of shorthanded duty for Edmonton last season, the fifth-most among Oilers forwards. He appeared in just eight games, which might explain why his workload dropped from the team-high 2:11 he averaged in 2020-21.

Although he was a regular on the penalty-kill during his three seasons in Edmonton, Archibald said the guy with whom he partnered changed every season.

“I kind of had a different one each year,” he said. “But whenever we found a good fit, we stuck together for the whole year.”

Archibald, who skated on a line with Ryan Poehling and Brock McGinn during drills Wednesday, is still getting acclimated to his surroundings, although he’s not really a newcomer to the organization.

He was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ sixth-round draft choice in 2011, and played parts of three seasons here before being traded to Arizona in 2017. His first stint with the Penguins included four games during their Stanley Cup run in 2017, including an appearance in Game 4 of the final against Nashville,

Most of his teammates from those days are gone, but there are some familiar faces in the locker room.

“A good eight to 10 were probably here when I was here last, so it was a pretty nice welcome back,” he said.

While that familiarity doesn’t seem to have been a major factor in Archibald’s decision to rejoin the Penguins when he went on the market in July, it might have contributed.

“There were options on the table,” he said. “I have a family — two kids, and another on the way — so I had to do what’s best for me and my family, and I think this was the best option.

“Whoever was going to give me the best opportunity, where I was going to get to play the style that I play and whoever believed in me the most, is what it came down to. It was the best option. I was comfortable here and it’s nice to come back.”

And he clearly intends to still be around when the Pittsburgh Penguins’ regular season begins.

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Alan Smith
2 months ago

Hard to be a fourth line player! Pens knew what they were getting! Let’s hope he is a good selection! Glad to see he sees the Pens for a team to rise with and the Burg a good place to raise a family!

Bachinga
Bachinga
2 months ago

Just so all’a’yinz know…Edmonton’s PK sucks and has sucked through several seasons…

I like Archie tho…when my Dad was sick and we spent a lot of time in Wilkes, where we had a place, Archie was pretty visible in the community…good guy…wish him well…

Last edited 2 months ago by Bachinga
Brandon O
Brandon O
2 months ago

Clearly he wanted to be here and knows his role as a 4th line energy pk type. Let’s hope he pushes the younger guys too. If the coaches / management thought we had enough prospects to fill this role, they wouldn’t have went out and signed him and traded for poehling. Let’s trust they know what they’re doing and Archibald ends up as this year’s Boyle.