Three Pittsburgh Penguins were sick on Monday. One was injured. And just 10 forwards participated in line rushes and practice drills as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Casey DeSmith presumably had more than the sniffles.
Coach Mike Sullivan didn’t have enough for a fourth line on Monday, so Josh Archibald rotated on the third line for some ice time on the sparsely populated ice surface.
After practice, Sullivan only expressed hope that his sick players could be ready on Tuesday. Barring new information on Tuesday for the morning skate at PPG Paints Arena, the Penguins could be in trouble.
To make matters worse, Ryan Poehling skated with assistant coach Ty Hennes early Monday morning and is dealing with an upper-body injury. Sullivan termed him day-to-day.
This could be interesting.
Here’s the worst-case scenario:
The NHL has emergency call-up rules. However, a team must first play shorthanded before the emergency rules apply. The Penguins have about 72k of salary cap space, which is not enough for a single recall, let alone replacing multiple players.
If they are short on Tuesday, they have no redress, except at goalie — explained below.
NHL CBA Emergency Call-Up Rules, per Puckpedia.com:
Per the current CBA, if a team is short 20 players (12 skaters, six defensemen, and two goalies) and does not have the cap space for a recall, they are permitted to call up a player with a cap hit of $1 million or less, after playing short for one game. This player does not carry a cap hit while recalled.
Goalies are exempt from the recall rules, and a team can recall a goalie with a cap hit of less than $1 million without playing short for one game. Presumed third goalie Dustin Tokarski carries a cap hit of $775,000 in the NHL.
So, the Penguins won’t be short on the goalies if Casey DeSmith can’t go. If DeSmith can go, the Penguins still won’t be able to call up a skater until Friday in Buffalo via the emergency rules, if needed.
Monday at practice, Danton Heinen filled in as the first-line center, while Teddy Blueger slotted between Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust as the second center. Jeff Carter remained with Brock McGinn and Kasperi Kapanen.
The struggling Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t the deepest team, nor are they flush with premier centers, but the Penguins may have a difficult spot with only 10 forwards; they will essentially be without a fourth line if neither Crosby nor Malkin can play.
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines on Monday
Of course, this is the worst-case scenario, assuming Crosby and Malkin won’t be healthy. Then again, this also assumes no additional Penguins will come down with an illness, either.