The Pittsburgh Penguins made another roster move to deal with yet another injury, or two. The Penguins recalled forward Adam Johnson from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on an emergency basis Wednesday afternoon after Patric Hornqvist and Alex Galchenyuk missed practice due to injury. The Penguins placed Galchenyuk on IR.
The Penguins practiced with only 10 forwards. Defensemen Chad Ruhwedel and Juuso Riikola filled in as forwards. The team played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen Tuesday night. Agozzino did not play but Lafferty made his NHL debut.
Hornqvist was injured when he was hit by a shot Tuesday night. He left the ice and did not return. Galchenyuk finished the game but did not practice because he reaggravated an injury, according to Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan.
Johnson, 25, is the third emergency call up in three days. The Penguins recalled Sam Lafferty and Andrew Agozzino on Monday afternoon. Johnson is in his third professional season. He had 43 points (18g, 25a) in 67 games last season. Johnson had two assists in his first AHL game this season.
The Penguins dressed Johnson for only one preseason game. In that game on Sept. 16 against the Buffalo Sabres, he scored a goal and was a plus-two. Johnson made his NHL debut last season. He played six games and recorded two assists. His average ice time was just over five minutes.
Johnson was an undrafted free agent after two years in the USHL and two years of college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The 6-foot, 175-pound forward is known for his well above-average speed.
The Penguins may need a drum and fife, soon. If another forward is hurt, the Penguins are already pushing their luck with players who aren’t necessarily NHLers. Following the 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, Sullivan said the Penguins were unlikely to go with seven defensemen again. Following that line, the Penguins fourth line will be something akin to Johnson-Lafferty-Agozzino.
Lafferty played well in his NHL debut, but a fourth line comprised of AHL players isn’t a recipe for success, unless you’re talking about Jock Callander, Mike Needham, and Dave Michayluk (1992 Penguins folk heroes).
For several weeks, the universe has been telling Penguins GM Jim Rutherford to make a move. A crumbled roster without its middle line centers, and without three of its four top wingers will be an extraordinary challenge for the team which excelled without Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang last March.
With some dark irony, the Pittsburgh Penguins had three players who wanted a fresh start: Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, and Alex Galchenyuk. Now, all of them are injured. For a team trying to gel and get off to a good start, this may squash any hopes of a fast start and put the Penguins in a hole.