The Pittsburgh Penguins finally made the call and brought up speedy forward Teddy Blueger from the WBS Penguins, Tuesday. The 2012 second-round pick was in his third full AHL season and has been flashing the offensive instincts for which the Penguins have been waiting. And so Blueger is not expected to sit now that he’s finally in the NHL.
Speaking with organizational sources in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (before the official call-up) and close to the Penguins organization yesterday (after the recall), one sentiment became abundantly clear: Blueger is here to play.
There was palpable excitement expressed to Pittsburgh Hockey Now; the kind not seen or heard regarding a call-up in a long while.
Blueger’s speed and energy could be a boost to the Penguins lineup which has been struggling with enthusiasm. While the Penguins organization types and front office do not get to make lineup decisions, there is a clear expectation he will play, if not tonight against Tampa Bay, then soon and for a good stretch.
It should be noted, the Penguins front office also expected Daniel Sprong to play more but allowed head coach Mike Sullivan and assistant coach Mark Recchi to make that call. The Penguins organization often has a healthy exchange of ideas and are respectful of roles and responsibilities.
Blueger, 24, was in the middle of a career year in the AHL. He has already tied his career best with 21 goals. His 39 points (21g, 18a) in just 45 games well exceeds his pace last season when he scored 45 points in 70 AHL games.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now scouted Blueger in the preseason. His speed is superior and will not be a question. His tenacity should draw a few smiles from the Penguins coaches, especially as they implore the team to play low in the offensive zone–Blueger is a perfect fit. The only knock–besides his level of finish–was that Blueger’s speed could lead him out of position. He can get to loose pucks around the rink but sometimes, his energy could lead him astray.
There was some concern that Blueger’s offense wouldn’t translate to the NHL game. He was seen as a defensive center but those concerns have given way to curiosity and enthusiasm for the tangibles and intangibles Blueger may bring to the lineup. Our Penguins sources haven’t been this excited by a call-up in a couple of years.
Blueger is a natural center, and this is where Sullivan could make a call different from front office expectation. Sullivan will have the say to play Blueger at center–possibly third line center–or as a winger. And this is where life could get interesting for all involved.
According to the Athletic’s Josh Yohe (stick tap to good human), Jim Rutherford called up Blueger to give Sullivan options. A trade is not imminent, according to Yohe but the Penguins could revisit putting Derick Brassard on the left wing, which would allow the Penguins to utilize Blueger as a center. Or, a more simple option is placing Blueger on the fourth line right wing with Matt Cullen, in place of Garrett Wilson.
Blueger should be in attendance at the Penguins morning skate. However, since those are optional we may not find out Sullivan’s plans until game time.