The Penguins will be without one of their top defenders for at least a little while as the team announced that they have placed Jeff Petry on long-term injured reserve retroactive to December 11. The move frees up some short-term cap space and Pittsburgh used some of that right away as they recalled defenseman Mark Friedman and forward Drew O’Connor from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.
Petry was injured in Saturday’s victory over Buffalo with what appeared to be a hand or wrist injury. Following the game, he suggested it wouldn’t be a long-term issue but clearly, this placement suggests otherwise. The Penguins acquired the 35-year-old over the offseason from Montreal with the hopes of giving them a strong one-two punch on the right-hand side with Kris Letang. Petry has fit in well with a dozen points in 28 games while averaging over 22 minutes a night, a number that jumped to over 26 minutes per contest while Letang was recovering from his stroke. Now, Letang will be counted on to take on a heavier workload with Petry out for at least the next 10 games and 24 days. Chad Ruhwedel will likely slot in as a regular on the back end in Petry’s absence.
O’Connor is the top scorer for Pittsburgh’s farm team as he has eight goals and 14 assists in 20 games so far this season, a rate that’s a small improvement over the 32 points in 33 AHL contests he had last year. The 24-year-old played in 22 games with Pittsburgh last season where he had three goals and two assists but so far this year, he has been limited to just three contests, being held off the scoresheet while averaging 8:32 per night.
As for Friedman, he played in a career-high 26 NHL contests last season but Pittsburgh was able to get him through waivers back in October and assigned him to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton upon clearing. He has played in 19 games in the minors so far, collecting a goal and four assists. For Pittsburgh to be able to activate Petry when he’s able to return, they will have to get cap-compliant which likely means that Friedman and O’Connor will have to go back to the minors at that time, barring other injuries.