Latest Pens Buzz

Dressing non-regulars in the lineup will continue for the next couple preseason games but with less than two weeks to go before opening night, the real part of training camp began for the Penguins on Wednesday where you pretty much now have the ‘Varsity’ and ‘JV’ groups being separated.

“We’re trying to maximize the opportunity, even though we’re in the middle of training camp, to get the semblance of what we would consider our roster,” said Mike Sullivan on Wednesday.

The lines and groupings look awfully similar to what you’re going to see vs Tampa Bay.

Line 1: Jake Guentzel – Jeff Carter – Bryan Rust
Line 2: Jason Zucker – Evan Rodrigues – Kasperi Kapanen
Line 3: Brock McGinn – Teddy Blueger – Danton Heinen
Line 4: Anthony Angello/Drew O’Connor – Brian Boyle – Dominik Simon
*Regular Zach Aston-Reese tested positive for Covid-19 on Sept 27 and remains sidelined*

Defensive Pairs
Brian Dumoulin – Kris Letang
Mike Matheson – John Marino
Marcus Pettersson – Chad Ruhwedel
Juuso Riikola – Mark Friedman

Camp Buzz & Rumblings

Even with injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to go with Zach Aston-Reese also out due to Covid, what we’re seeing already a week into camp was the expected in Mike Sullivan valuing experience than being open to a Sam Poulin or Nathan Legare having legit shots to win a spot.

Even though both have fared well in camp, Legare has impressed the brass a bit more with his consistency in practice sessions through the first week, both were always highly unlikely to be given legit looks. The organization has looked at them with 2022-2023 in mind and nothing camp change that view. The better question is whether both should be practicing another week with the main group just for development purposes to go against a Dumoulin and Letang, while someone like Drew O’Connor who has zero upside to the club is with the first group.

Then there’s defenseman Pierre Olivier-Joseph. He has no experience on the right side and is blocked by Marcus Pettersson that has him destined for Wilkes Barre when he’s really at the point in his development where he needs to be in the NHL. The groups will change with a player or two over the next 5-7 days but Olivier-Joseph already with the minors group is telling and it doesn’t quiet the noise that the previous regime was much more higher on Joseph than the new regime.

Even with the numbers game against him, It’s questionable why he’s not getting NHL level practice time at this point in camp.

— Has Mike Sullivan gained more power with the GM and front office changes? For input on personnel decisions, it really has, multiple sources say. Despite three first round exits and a new GM always wanting his own guy, from Ron Hextall to Brian Burke, they were in awe of Sullivan last season in his ability as a coach in all phases. Both are on the same page in that they look at Sullivan as a top-3 coach in the game, sources say. Burke To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”! will be how Kasperi Kapanen becomes viewed in the organization. Does he become a player they’re comfortable committing To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

— Teams around the league including the Penguins have not soured on Jason Zucker who was overly critical last week of his performance in 2021. To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”! The most prominent talks the Penguins had surrounding Zucker was with the To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

— With the Penguins brass putting a high priority on 1st and second round picks for the next two drafts, especially the 2022 draft, One kicker to the Jeff Carter trade from last season:

Pittsburgh has no 2022 third round pick to move for any in season trades and also can not trade their 2023 third round pick due to the condition that if Carter plays 50 games in 2021-2022, Pittsburgh’s 2023 third round pick goes to the Kings instead of a 2023 4th rounder.

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