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The Penguins Final Roster and Analysis, Joseph Stays

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The Pittsburgh Penguins released their official 31-player roster on Sunday afternoon as the team traveled to Toronto to begin their chase for the Stanley Cup inside the NHL bubble city. Phase 4 games begin on Aug. 1, and their exhibition game against the Philadelphia Flyers is Tuesday, July 28. There were a couple of surprises on the roster and a couple of prospects, in addition to one prospect who didn’t make the cut.

The NHL released the rosters at 5:30 p.m., but teams including the Penguins did not comment.

In Phase 3, teams could have unlimited goaltenders, but in Phase 4 games, teams were capped at 31 players, including goalies. Teams could allocate their positional depth as they pleased.

The Penguins chose 17 forwards, 10 defensemen and four goalies, though the inclusion of defenseman Juuso Riikola also gives the Penguins a swing player. Riikola played a handful of games at forward this season and scored a goal.

Pittsburgh Penguins 31-Player Positional Breakdown

Centers: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jared McCann, Teddy Blueger

LW: Jake Guentzel, Jason Zucker, Patrick Marleau, Zach Aston-Reese

RW: Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, Brandon Tanev

Extra forwards: Anthony Angello, Sam Lafferty, Adam Johnson, Evan Rodrigues, Phil Varone.

Defensemen (10): Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, John Marino, Marcus Pettersson, Justin Schultz, Jack Johnson, Chad Ruhwedel, Juuso Riikola, Kevin Czuczman, Pierre-Olivier Joseph.

Goalies: Matt Murray, Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith, Emil Larmi

Penguins Analysis

It is somewhat surprising that P-O Joseph made the 31-player squad. He didn’t look sharp in the first scrimmage but he looked stronger in the second scrimmage on Saturday. Joseph began to skate with the puck and make better decisions on Saturday. Read the PHN scrimmage analysis here. Joseph may have won the numbers game as the Penguins didn’t have another option for the 10th defenseman spot. Before camp, the Penguins announced they would hold out Zach Trotman from the return.

Joseph’s inclusion means he’ll get extra time to work with the Penguins defenseman, specifically Kris Letang. Joseph is an offensive defenseman with exceptional speed and abilities but is only 21-years-old. The time with the big club could do wonders for his maturation as a player.

WBS Penguins GM and head coach Mike Vellucci raved about Joseph to PHN.

The disappointment is that 2019 first-round pick Sam Poulin did not make the final roster. Poulin was strong on the puck in the final scrimmage on Saturday, but missing the first week of camp because of the voluntary quarantine due to secondary COVID-19 exposure, was a crushing blow to his chances.

The Penguins have a bright future with Poulin and Joseph. Poulin rang a few shots off Jarry on Saturday, including one off of Jarry’s mask.

Adam Johnson earned his way onto the roster. He was one of the nine players voluntarily quarantined, but Johnson was flying in both scrimmages in which he was permitted to participate. Johnson showed off his speed and showed tenacity in camp, too.

He really did earn his way.

Sam Miletic was the other forward who did not make the final roster.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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