FINAL DECISIONS LOOM FOR PENGUINS
The Penguins are off today but management is in the final stages of shaping the opening night roster with internal decisions on-going this morning. All teams have to be cap compliant and have their official rosters in by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday.
The most pressing issues for the Penguins will be whether to start Evgeni Malkin on injured reserve or not, and make final decisions on Kasperi Kapanen and Oskar Sundqvist.
While announcements might not be made till tomorrow, firm decisions on Kapanen and Sundqvist will be made by the afternoon.
Malkin’s status will impact at least one of them, especially if Jim Rutherford stays true to his word that the Penguins will only open the season with 21 skaters due to cap reasons.
The best long-term move for Kapanen is to go back to Europe to properly develop his game, notably how he plays away from the puck. Do the Penguins see it that way?
The consensus throughout the organization is Kapanen needs another year to develop, except for a few.
If the call on Kapanen is an organization one, Kapanen goes back to Europe, but if Jim Rutherford makes the final call, which is within his right as he is the GM, the sense is Kapanen gets a nine-game tryout.
Sundqvist is different story. He’s proved to be much closer to being NHL ready than the Penguins thought even last month at the Prospect Tournament.
Sundqvist’s contract cannot slide because he is 20 and momentum is in the corner that the best move for Sundqvist is to stay in North America, whether it’s in the NHL or AHL.
Sunqvist two years older and a more rounded player than Kapanen where he can play anywhere in the lineup and has great size.
“He’s had a very good preseason,” head coach Mike Johnston said after the Penguins pre-season finale. “Every game, no matter where I seem to play him, he seems to have responded.”
“He’s a very good prospect,”Johnston said. “I mentioned the other day, I really thought out of this camp, he’s a guy that took a big step. He’s got size, he’s good both ways, he’s responsible, so he’s going to be a very good player for this organization.”
Even playing in the AHL for most of the season will benefit Sundqvist as the AHL is just as physical if not more physical than the NHL and Sunqvist is still adjusting to the smaller rinks.
— Barring a trade, which isn’t happening, Craig Adams is a lock to be on the Penguins opening night roster. Any players eligible for waivers had to be placed on waivers today if the team wanted to send them down to the minors and not count against the NHL’s 23-man roster.