Penguins camp cuts almost complete; A look at the final roster battles.

The Penguins made additional roster cuts today after today’s game with Detroit.  Rather than list who was cut, here is a look at who remains with the team:

  • Goaltenders Matt Murray, Casey DeSmith, Tristan Jarry
  • Defenseman Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Jack Johnson, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz, Jamie Oleksiak, Chad Ruhwedel, Juuso Riikola, Zach Trotman
  • Forwards Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Daniel Sprong, Carl Hagelin, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Bryan Rust, Derick Brassard, Patric Hornqvist, Domink Simon, Matt Cullen, Zach Aston-Reese, Derek Grant, Riley Sheahan, JS Dea

In goal, both Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry have played well all preseason.  In the end, I do believe the plan will remain to have Casey DeSmith as the backup, however, if Matt Murray goes down for an extended period of time, Jarry would be recalled and be the starter for the Penguins.  Pittsburgh would still prefer to have Jarry playing games rather than sitting on the bench behind Murray with a few starts.

On defense, Chad Ruhwedel, Zach Trotman, and Juuso Riikola are in a battle for the 7th defenseman spot.  The real intrigue here is with Riikola.  He has opened a lot of eyes and been better than many have expected.  Salary, waivers, and handedness aside, Riikola probably deserves to be the 7th defenseman with his play this preseason.  But as we all know, there are more elements at play here.  Ruhwedel has 2 years experience with the Penguins, and has done a solid job when filling in.  He is also right handed, which is an added bonus when only Letang and Schultz are righties in the starting 6.  The decision to keep Trotman up is a bit intriguing, for the simple fact that he is also right handed.  Could the Penguins be preparing to send Ruhwedel and Trotman through waivers at the same time?  Because Riikola is waiver exempt, similar to Tristan Jarry, the smart play here is to send Riikola to WBS so he gets into games rather than sitting in the press box as the 7th defense.  If an injury occurs to the defense, there is nothing wrong with recalling Riikola and inserting him in the lineup and continuing to leave Ruhwedel on the bench.

At forward, JS Dea, Derek Grant, Dominik Simon, and Aston-Reese are likely battling for 1 or 2 positions.  Aston-Reese is the simple pick to send to WBS because he is waiver exempt, however, he’s played better than some others.  His play warrants being kept at the NHL level. He’s here on his seniority at the minor league level, in my opinion.  I think the final positions really come down to the health of Riley Sheahan.  If Sheahan isn’t ready to start the season, we could see Dea and Grant remain.  If Sheahan is healthy, I believe Dea will go to WBS, and the Penguins will keep Grant and Aston-Reese on the roster and carry 14 forwards.

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