The Pittsburgh Penguins made a couple of roster moves on Saturday morning, which gives a pretty clear indication of their roster for Saturday night when they visit the New York Islanders.
The team announced it activated defenseman Mike Matheson from the IR and recalled forward Drew O’Connor from the practice squad.
Matheson was injured against Philadelphia in the second game of the season and has not played since. He was a full participant this week in practice.
Matheson’s arrival comes at a fortuitous time for the Penguins. Injuries forced the Penguins to play top-pair defenseman John Marino more than 30 minutes against the New York Rangers on Monday, and the top four LHD were on the injured list.
However, rookie P-O Joseph has been a revelation and figures to skate on the Penguins top pair with Kris Letang on Saturday or remain with Marino in the top-four.
Letang also missed the game against New York on Monday but practiced fully on Thursday and Friday.
O’Connor, 22, has appeared in four games for Pittsburgh this season, recording one assist. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound forward originally signed with the Penguins as an undrafted free college agent from Dartmouth on March 10, 2020.
Absent from the Saturday morning Penguins roster moves was forward Zach Aston-Reese, who remains on LTIR. Aston-Reese had offseason left shoulder surgery. He, too, was a full participant in practice this week but was not activated.
His initial timetable for recovery was mid-February.
The Penguins fourth line will likely include O’Connor, who has become a regular and seen limited time on the Penguins’ second power-play unit. Colton Sceviour or Sam Lafferty will take the right flank beside center Mark Jankowski.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are 5-4-1 and one point ahead of New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and Buffalo Sabres for fourth place in the East Division. Only the top four spots will advance to the NHL playoffs in May.