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Joseph NOT on Waivers; Penguins Have Two Options, Including Trade

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Pittsburgh Penguins, P.O Joseph

The Pittsburgh Penguins did not put defenseman prospect P.O Joseph on waivers Sunday.

While inaction is usually not breaking news, in this case, it means a surprise is coming. The Penguins have until Monday afternoon to get below the $82.5 million salary cap and are still over the cap limit. And just because Joseph wasn’t waived, that doesn’t mean he’ll be on the opening night roster.

After keeping Joseph on Sunday, the only two plausible actions which could get the team below the cap are a Penguins trade or sending defenseman Ty Smith to the WBS Penguins. Joseph can be waived later, but he would not clear before Monday at 5 p.m. Thus the Penguins would remain over the cap.

UPDATE: The Penguins announced Sunday evening they assigned Mark Friedman and Ty Smith to the WBS Penguins.

Center Teddy Blueger has been progressing from an upper-body injury and elevated to non-contact in the Penguins practice at the UPMC Lemieux on Sunday. It’s unlikely the Penguins could place Blueger on LTIR to buy more time.

The Penguins did get to keep Mark Friedman. The surly defenseman cleared waivers on Sunday. The team did not submit a claim for Radim Zohorna. Dave Molinari has the Penguins’ waiver report.

With Friedman in WBS, the Penguins are about $780,000 over the cap, according to CapFriendly.com.

Smith, 22, carries an $863,333 cap hit. His demotion to the WBS Penguins would get the Penguins under the cap but by about $80,000.

Joseph, 23, played his best preseason game when it mattered most on Friday. Coaches paired him with Jeff Petry on the second pairing, and Joseph was excellent in the beginning and steady throughout the game.

“I thought it was (Joseph’s) best game. I think when you play with a player like (Petry), it makes the game a little bit easier,” head coach Mike Sullivan said Friday. “But I thought it was P.O’s best game for sure. And, you know, I thought he got better as the camp went on. And it’s encouraging to see him have a game like…”

PHN graded Joseph well in the Penguins postgame analysis. He carries an $800,000 cap hit this season.

Smith was a mixed bag on Friday; he was very good on the offensive side of the red line but was lost in transition and lost a few d-zone battles that allowed scoring chances. The defensive zone is currently his weakness.

One week ago, Sullivan admitted Smith had work to do.

“…On the defensive side, I think we’ve got an opportunity to help him grow. We know he can improve that area, and I think he’s determined to get there,” said Sullivan after a preseason 3-1 loss in Buffalo.

Pittsburgh Penguins 2 Options

Smith was seemingly the coaches’ choice to take the Penguins’ third-pairing spot. From the first days of training camp, Smith slotted beside Jan Rutta, who will be the Penguins’ third-pair right-side defenseman.

Smith is waivers exempt and can be assigned to the WBS Penguins immediately. However, as of publishing Sunday afternoon, the Penguins have not yet done so.

A possible Penguins trade isn’t limited to P.O Joseph. However, PHN reported in June that the New York Islanders had at least some interest in the defenseman. Montreal was the other team we confirmed to have interest in Joseph, but their situation has significantly changed, and an LHD isn’t a primary area of need.

GM Ron Hextall has not dismissed the idea of a trade but has not expressed optimism, either. Several other teams were, or are, looking for a partner on the NHL trade market. However, there are precious few teams with enough salary cap space to acquire more than minimal salaries.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to practice Monday at 6:30 p.m. after the roster deadline.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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GBG
GBG
1 month ago

“The defensive zone is currently his weakness.” Why are they even considering keeping Smith on the big club if he can’t even play the position he’s assigned???

Benny
Benny
1 month ago
Reply to  GBG

They let Matheson do it

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  GBG

Smith would have Rutta to back him up when he makes mistakes. The Penguins aren’t a trapping team and their best defense is honestly to stay on Offence. That is what Smith does best and he is probably their 3rd best defenseman at doing exactly what they need. Keeping the offensive zone and creating chances for their wealth of skilled forwards. Also, his ELC is super cheap so that helps with being cap compliant.

Dean
Dean
1 month ago

The short-term answer is to send Smith down, He can use the time to get more minutes than he would get with the NHL team.

Trading Joseph or anyone that makes under $2.5M doesn’t solve the problem. $80K of cap space will not work for the long term. The Pens really need to move out at least $2.5M from one player. This would give them the ability to have a 23-man roster and room to manage the cap later in the year.

I can 3 options: move McGinn, move Pettersson, to have someone on LTIR at least until the playoffs.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Dean

I agree. The main thing is that they have 4 defenseman making more than 4 mil and that is taking up way too much cap space. They have less expensive options that can do exactly what Pettersson does. Nothing against him, he is a solid 3rd pair defenseman. The only issue is that he is getting paid 2nd pair money and Joseph can do that at roughly 1/4 of the cost. Agree somewhat with McGinn. I do not think he has as bad a contract and he does bring an element to the 4th line that others don’t so he… Read more »

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James
James
1 month ago

I see no sense of urgency here. In my opinion, if you can’t trade PO Joseph, then send Ty Smith down and play Joseph until a trade can be made. That will give teams a good look at him. Ty Smith gets to work on his D game and Joseph gets to marinate in the NHL for a bit. And we don’t lose a player for nothing. If he becomes a liability, then put him on waivers and send him down. If another club claims him, we’ll that’s okay. We saw what he offered. I WOULD NOT trade out other… Read more »

bigredbaer
bigredbaer
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Been my exact thought for months. Smith obviously needs minutes to get tape to study as well as some work in our system for our coaches to diagnose what he needs work on. PO is considered NHL ready by the defensive coach at the NHL level and should be given his shot. What comes of it will either be a win for the Pens long term, or it’ll let everyone know it’s time to move on.

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