The Pittsburgh Penguins begin the nine-month journey of the 2022-23 NHL season in just over one week. The prospects and rookies open camp this week and even play a game later this week at the prospects challenge in Buffalo. In what could have been the calm before the storm, Pittsburgh Hockey Now scribe Dave Molinari broke a couple of stories about the Penguins trade talks, including one from Brian Burke.
While previewing the underdogs in the Penguins camp, we realized the players fighting for roster spots were all former first-round picks. Zach Aston-Reese stayed east but opened the door for the Edmonton media to blame the Oilers for missing out again. To the relief of dogmatists, Dominik Simon said he rejected the Penguins’ invite to camp.
Pittsburgh Penguins Week
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Dave Molinari spoke with Brian Burke early in the week. Burke said the Penguins would be better this season, but a Penguins trade nugget was included in their conversation. Teams are calling the Penguins about their defensemen. Nothing is active right now, but… “It’s a possibility.” Penguins trade talk.
Burke also said the team is counting on several players, including one of those defensemen, to have a bounce-back season. Among those being counted upon to reverse course are Jason Zucker and Brian Dumoulin.
The “bombshell” this week was that a Metro Division team tried to sell its cap space to the Penguins. Molinari specifically did not include the team in the trade scoop, but a Metro team wanted the Penguins’ first-round pick to facilitate a trade for Zucker. Penguins GM Ron Hextall obviously balked. Read more about the Penguins trade rejection.
Philly Hockey Now: Sam Carchidi at Philly Hockey Now connected the dots. He wrote that the mystery team who tried to acquire Zucker and a first from the Penguins could have been none other than arch-rival, Philadelphia Flyers.
Baby won’t be put in a corner. Joey doesn’t share food. Hextall won’t be giving up first-round picks.
PHN+: Four forwards are fighting for roster spots in Penguins camp next week. One was acquired this summer in the Penguins trade for Jeff Petry (Ryan Poehling). One was last season in a minor-league swap (Alex Nylander for Sam Lafferty). I’m looking forward to seeing more from Nylander. I suspect he’ll be one of those players who gets a sweater in most of the preseason games. Reports and scouting reports are nice, but I trust my eyes in such cases. Sometimes I get it wrong (thus far with Nathan Legare), but I usually get it right, good and bad. (see also, John Marino, Kasper Bjorkqvist, Daniel Sprong…et al)
And 2019 Penguins first-round pick Sam Poulin is still trying to establish himself, too. It’s a not-so-fun fact that three of the four players taken directly after Poulin have played 69 or more NHL games already. But the Penguins camp will provide a ground for several underdogs with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Zach Aston-Reese signed a PTO with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sources close to him spoke to PHN and shed some light on why. The Edmonton media seemed to want him, too and cracked the team just a bit for missing out. A new home (probably) for Zach Aston-Reese.
Dominik Simon was booted off the Czechia World Championships team after he picked a fight with a teammate. He later took full responsibility and apologized. On Saturday, Sparta Praha in the Czech first division announced they signed him to a contract, and as part of Simon’s comments, he said the Penguins offered him a camp invite.
PHN+: Which rookies and prospects will have the most pressure to perform this week in the Penguins prospects camp?
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