CRANBERRY — Are the Pittsburgh Penguins almost back to full health? In their first practice after the bye and All-Star Game break, both LW Reilly Smith and defenseman John Ludvig were in full-contact sweaters.
Ludvig is still listed on the long-term injured list but was loaned to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on a conditioning assignment Sunday.
Smith, 32, has been listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He hasn’t played since a 4-3 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 11.
This season, Smith has eight goals and 20 points but only two goals in his last 30.
Ludvig, 23, hasn’t played since the Penguins beat the New York Islanders on Dec. 31. He’s been out with a lower-body injury. This season, the defenseman whom the Penguins claimed off waivers from the Florida Panthers has one assist in 19 games but has brought a physical element to the blue line. However, he’s also suffered a pair of injuries since he entered the lineup in October, including a concussion in his first NHL game on Oct. 24 against the Dallas Stars.
The Penguins lineup also received reinforcements Sunday when the team signed Jesse Puljujarvi to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $800,000.
However, winger Valtteri Puustinen, who was sent to the WBS Penguins at the beginning of the bye week, has not been recalled. The Penguins had 20 skaters at practice, including Puljujarvi, but not Puustinen.
Forward Matt Nieto is the only player who remains on the injured list but not skating with the team.
The Penguins broke their All-Star break Sunday with a late 4 p.m. practice at the UPMC Lemieux Complex. Pittsburgh Hockey Now will update the story after practice.
Update: Coach Mike Sullivan said he expects Ludvig, Smith, and Puljujarvi to be available and game-time decisions on Tuesday when the Penguins host the Winnipeg Jets at PPG Paints Arena.
“Reilly (Smith) is obviously a good player and has a really impressive body of work in this league,” Sullivan said. “(He had) a great start to the season and then had a stretch where he wasn’t as productive. And so hopefully this will just give him an opportunity to come in with a refreshed mind refreshed level of energy, in a forward-thinking outlook.”
Update 1: Penguins Lines:
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Reilly Smith-Evgeni Malkin-Drew O’Connor
Rickard Rakell-Lars Eller-Jesse Puljujarvi
Jansen Harkins-Noel Acciari-Jeff Carter
Marcus Pettersson-Kris Letang
Ryan Graves-Erik Karlsson
John Ludvig-Chad Ruhwedel
Power Play #1:
Power Play #2: