Latest Penguins Buzz

Insider Only Latest Pens Buzz: Rumblings & Takeaways as Final Roster Decisions Loom

Latest Pens Buzz

  • Stricter Measures Stopped Spread
  • Simon, O’Connor
  • Brian Boyle Latest
  • Rumblings & Takeaways

Although Zach Aston-Reese and Jake Guentzel were breakthrough cases as both players are vaccinated, there was some second guessing in the organization and even frustration, especially from the head coach in the organization’s laxed approach at the start of camp. That saw Sullivan be the lead horse in pushing for daily testing and more mask wearing from the coaching staff and others around the players. The Penguins believe they stopped a potential outbreak in his tracks.

Things are tracking where Aston-Reese who has been in the protocol since Sept 27, could return to full practice after the weekend.

Guentzel who is asymptomatic, tested positive on Oct 5th, but could still avoid the leagues 10 day isolation protocol if he tests negative on two consecutive days.

Simon, O’Connor Tracking Towards Making the Roster

Two players who made big inroads to making the opening roster have clearly been Dominik Simon and Drew O’Connor.

Training camp has showed again that Mike Sullivan is a big Dominik Simon guy as Sullivan on Friday specifically named Simon, O’Connor and Danton Heinen as players who have stood out to him.

“I thought Dom Simon was really good,” said Mike Sullivan after Thursday’s loss to the Red Wings. “He makes plays and he wins puck battles and makes plays out of the traffic [areas].

Simon is just a player that Sullivan trusts and that’s critical for a fringe player.

Drew O’Connor for now has also played his way into being a player the coaches trust on the ice. O’Connor has been a revelation in camp. This was a player who last season looked like he belonged in the ECHL. It was a joke he was in the lineup. That’s how overmatched he was.

The preseason is such an overreaction period as the media and team sites need feel good puff stories, so let’s take a wait and see approach with the offensive production O’Connor has showed in meaningless games. It’s warranted to be a little weary.

But, O’Connor to his credit has made tremendous strides in his play away from the puck. He’s been a forechecking hawk in the preseason but also more importantly the practice sessions and that’s how you get in the good gracious of this coaching staff — Excel in areas away from the puck. —

“I think his two-way game is really developed,” Sullivan said this week of the 23 year old O’Connor.

Decision Time on Brian Boyle: Late Friday evening the Boyle camp was “optimistic” of Boyle signing a one year contract with the Penguins based off their recent discussions Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"



  • Jeff Carter
  • Sidney Crosby
  • Evan Rodriguez
  • Danton Heinen
  • Sam Lafferty
  • Prospects Buzz

— Good news on the Sidney Crosby front. He continues to track on the six week timetable. The Penguins don’t anticipate him missing much time if any at all….

— One player who might be losing a bit of a grip on a regular spot due to the emergence of others is said to be Evan Rodrigues……

— Sources say the coaching staff privately has marveled at how fantastic Jeff Carter has looked in camp. There’s obvious questions of how Carter at his age performs over an 82 game season. Carter, though, continues to look like the player he was five years ago….

— The Penguins believe they have tapped into Boston Danton Heinen and they’ll be able to play him all over the lineup, including spots with the top guys.

— Word coming into camp is that the coaching staff was pretty much done with Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

No Change: Sam Poulin, Nathan Legare: In eyes of evaluators in the organization, neither came in and had great moments in camp. They were steady but nothing more and certainly not ready to push for NHL action. As one source bluntly put it Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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