The Pittsburgh Penguins completed their game simulation on Sunday night one day after they scrapped practice at PPG Paints Arena after the team discovered a possible COVID exposure. It appears most or all are fine, but the scrimmage gave a perfect look to take stock of which newbies and youngsters are seizing the day and which are losing their grip.
To be fair, most players haven’t had much competitive hockey in ten months. The lack of hockey has clearly affected more than a couple of players, and it appears minor league and juniors players had a tougher time finding their rhythm than consistent NHL performers.
On Sunday, the Hockey Now network confirmed with NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly that juniors eligible players are indeed eligible for the practice squad, so long as their junior team is not yet playing. Keep that in the back of your mind as we discuss the taxi squad.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan affirmed the Penguins would make room for any player who earned a spot, regardless of contract status.
“I think we have a pretty good track record that suggests we believe in (prospects). A guy like John Marino is an example…,” Sullivan said. “He earned his way into the lineup, and Jim had to make some moves to facilitate that process.”
After four scrimmages and a week of training camp, we can safely handicap where the Penguins roster stands. Who has the inside tracks, who will be taxi squad material, and who is headed to the AHL, assuming there will be an AHL season?