The Pittsburgh Penguins cut their training camp roster down to 35 players on Saturday morning. One day after the Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres, who carried an NHL-player heavy roster, the team trimmed its training camp roster by 13 players, including releasing defenseman Matt Bartkowski from his PTO, according to GM Ron Hextall.
The Penguins also returned forward Raivis Ansons to his junior team, Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL.
Bartkowski, 33, has 256 games of NHL experience but didn’t get much of a look in Penguins camp. The Penguins’ full blue line squad, prospect P.O. Joseph and depth defenseman Juuso Riikola blocked Bartkowski, who is from Pittsburgh. He played only 16 minutes on Friday night.
The Penguins also assigned the following players to the AHL camp.
F – Jordy Bellerive
F – Jonathan Gruden
F – Kyle Olson
F – Valtteri Puustinen
F – Felix Robert
D – Niclas Almari
D – Taylor Fedun
D – Cam Lee
D – Will Reilly
D – Mitch Reinke
G – Filip Lindberg
On Friday night, Sullivan assessed Valtteri Puustinen’s game following the Penguins’ 2-1 win. He complimented some of his offensive work but acknowledged the Penguins former seventh-round pick had work to do in the defensive zone.
“He’s got good offensive instincts. He has good poise with the puck. You know, I think playing on a smaller ice surface, things happen a lot faster. So that’s an adjustment,” Sullivan said of the Finnish prospect. “…and just not having as much time or as much space to make a play. You’ve got to really have an idea of what you’re going to do with the puck before you get it…But he’s a smart enough player. He has a high enough IQ that I think I think he’ll adjust to that.”
Sullivan also praised defenseman Cam Lee after the Penguins’ first preseason game last Monday. Sullivan called Lee “a trier,” who showed urgency.
The Pittsburgh Penguins practice again on Saturday morning at the UPMC Lemieux Complex. Group 2 will be down to 11 players. Top prospects Sam Poulin, Nathan Legare, and P.O. Joseph remain in camp.