The Pittsburgh Penguins cleared roster space for injured players and created an opportunity for young players to get ice time. On Friday morning, the Penguins demoted defenseman P.O. Joseph and forward Drew O’Connor to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL, according to GM Ron Hextall.
Joseph, 21, burst into NHL action with a few eye-popping games following his NHL debut, including his first NHL goal and filling in well as a top-pairing defenseman with John Marino.
The defenseman played 16 games thus far in his first NHL season with one goal and four assists. Joseph notched a point (assist) in his NHL debut on January 22 against the New York Rangers and later notched a three-point game (3a) against the Rangers on Jan. 30.
On February 6 at the New York Islanders, Joseph scored his first NHL goal.
Head coach Mike Sullivan last week said Joseph ad begun to struggle.
“He’s had glimpses of brilliance, obviously. Everybody sees his potential and what he’s capable of,” Sullivan said last week. “…I think the last handful of games, he hasn’t been quite as good as when he first came up, but he’s still doing good things out there.”
O’Connor was an undrafted college free agent who worked his way into the lineup out of training camp. He skated in nine games for the Penguins this season, registering an assist in his NHL debut on January 26 at Boston.
The moves open the door to activate top-pairing defenseman Brian Dumoulin and versatile forward Evan Rodrigues. Dumoulin has played in seven games this season and registered one assist.
Rodrigues is technically in his second stint with the Penguins. Last February, the Penguins acquired him at the trade deadline but included his rights as part of their package in the Kasperi Kapanen deal. The Penguins then signed him as a free agent.
In six games this season, Rodrigues has one goal.
Forwards Anthony Angello and Josh Currie were re-assigned to the Pittsburgh Penguins taxi squad.