Pens Brass mulling Jeffrey’s short-term and potential long-term fit
Forward Dustin Jeffrey came back to quick from April knee surgery and is now not healthy enough to play.
Jeffrey has remained off the ice since being recalled on Tuesday and the focus for the Penguins right now is strengthening his knee with off-ice rehab.
Jeffrey’s skating ability since tearing his ACL has been the concern inside the organization and those concerns grew when he appeared in two minor league games on a conditioning assignment.
“Heâs still rehabbing his knee, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said on Tuesday. “He needs to rehab that knee. Playing those minutes showed he needs to rehab. Thatâs why he didnât play in that third game. Thatâll be part of it for Dustin. He needs to get strong and continue to rehab while he progresses.”
The Penguins believe Jeffrey is just dealing with after effects from the injury (lack of strength) but questions are out there around the team in regards to why there was such a strong push to get him back into game action in October.
Even with Jeffrey still ailing, the Penguins are in a tough spot with him moving forward, due to Jeffrey being eligible for waivers.
As the Penguins inch closer to getting healthier with Sidney Crosby returning at somepoint, top-9 minutes are just not going to be there for Jeffrey and a spot in the top-12 might not be there based on how well others are playing in front of Jeffrey.
Penguin management though continues to weigh where Jeffrey fits on the roster short-term and long-term. The Penguins currently have 14 forwards on their active roster and soon will have 15 when Crosby returns.
There are some inside the organization who feel keeping Jeffrey up with the big club is going to be a detriment to his development if he’s playing a 4th line role with little special teams time and being a healthy scratch at times.
When GM Ray Shero was looking to find a suitor for Mark Letestu, the team was also getting calls on Jeffrey and Joe Vitale, sources say.
The Penguins don’t believe they can sneak Jeffrey though waivers but this is a franchise whose goal is on the present; Winning a Stanley Cup.
Once healthy, the team must make a decision on Jeffrey and decide whether’s he’s a player in their long-term plans. If they truly believe he is, then the Penguins must find a way to get him into the lineup (at the expense of another player) and in key situations that won’t deter his development; If not, gauge the trade market for him before having to risk him through waivers to get him to the minors.
All options are said to be on the table.