DECISION DAY FOR PENS BRASS
The Pittsburgh Penguins have to be cap compliant by Monday afternoon and if the team were to demote any players on one-way contracts, those players would have to be placed on waivers by 12:00 p.m. Sunday.
Throughout the NHL, we could see some interesting names on waivers today.
The Penguins right now have 16 forwards, 10 defensemen and 3 goaltenders in camp, though Tomas Vokoun is obviously not participating.
The Penguins plan to start the year with 21 or 22 players, and we’re likely to see 13 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goaltenders with Vokoun on LTIR and maybe one or two more players on injured reserve.
FORWARDS DEPTH CHART
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Beau Bennett – Brandon Sutter – Chuck Kobasew (unsigned) / Matt D’Agostino (INJ)
Tanner Glass – Dustin Jeffrey/ Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Chris Conner – Andrew Ebbett
*At the forward position, Chris Conner and Andrew Ebbett will go on waivers and be re-assigned to Wilkes Barre/Scranton. That puts the Penguins at 14 forwards. The wildcard is Chuck Kobasew. As I mentioned earlier in the week, the two sides have been in discussions since mid-week. Pittsburgh has an offer on the table below what Kobasew had initially been seeking —- $925,000. If Kobasew gets released from his PTO, it’s going to be because the two sides couldn’t find middle ground, not that the Penguins didn’t want to sign him.
*Matt D’Agostini dealing with a lower body injury, is a candidate to start the year on injured reserve but his injury isn’t long-term and don’t look for him to go onto LTIR. Interesting thing with D’Agostini is some feel Kobasew is a better fit over D’Agostini for what the Penguins need on their third line.
*If the Penguins get a deal done with Kobasew, Dustin Jeffrey has been regarded as the prime candidate to be moved due to the Penguins cap situation. Jeffrey, though, has made a very strong impression on the coaching staff in camp and I’m told new assistant coach Jacques Martin has been a big fan of Jeffrey’s instincts and two-way play. I’m hearing the coaches feel Jeffrey has had a better camp than Joe Vitale and there continues to be talk that the staff doesn’t have the confidence in Vitale to be the full-time 4th line center.
*Waiving Tanner Glass would save the Penguins $925,000 against the cap. There continues to be no indication the Penguins are planning to waive Glass who they have been counting on to be a pivotal grit guy in their lineup. Glass, though, is unlikely to meet those expectations. There is a frustration starting to build with him as I’m told Glass has come off to some key veterans as a player who is there just to get a paycheck. There’s no question the Penguins haven’t seen the player they thought they were getting from Winnipeg. The staff wants him to play with more emotion this season. At the end of the day, they have cheaper, younger options to fill Glass’s role in Harry Zolnierczyk and Zach Sill but don’t expect that to play out just yet.
*To get cap compliant, keep an eye on Beau Bennett being sent down a day to the minors and called back up for the regular season opener.
DEFENSEMEN DEPTH CHART
Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin
Rob Scuderi – Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen – Robert Bortuzzo
Simon Despres – Deryk Engelland
Olli Maatta – Derrick Pouliot
The Penguins have 10 defensemen in camp:
Derrick Pouliot will be sent back to juniors, taking the number to nine.
* Olli Maatta is likely heading back to juniors but the Penguins would love to find a way for him to stick around on a nine game window, sources tell me.
The only scenario this happens, though, is if it’s determined Kris Letang goes onto LTIR. Seems unlikely Maatta stays but it’s being considered.
*There’s been no trade chatter on Matt Niskanen. All indications are he is staying put.
*The Penguins plan all camp has been for Simon Despres to be sent down to the minors for cap reasons. This changes only if Letang is out long-term.
*Robert Bortuzzo has made such a strong impression on the coaching staff that Deryk Engelland will be phased out at the start of the year.
1. Marc Andre Fleury
2. Tomas Vokoun (INJ)
3. Jeff Zatkoff
*The Penguins have been preparing for Tomas Vokoun to miss a couple months but no doctor has told them his career is over. The Penguins expect to get a more definite timetable next week on Vokoun and look for him to start the year on LTIR. Talking with agents of free agent goaltenders, the Penguins appear to be sticking with Jeff Zatkoff for now which is also the message coming out of the organization. A rumor out there is the Penguins being in talks with Jose Theodore. Not true I’m told.