Josh Yohe of The Athletic speculated last night about who the Pittsburgh Penguins will keep as their 12th and 13th forwards. As mentioned in an article earlier this week, the Penguins had a litany of options in their bottom six and have whittled that number down to just a few players. Yohe figures that Jeff Carter, Lars Eller, Drew O’Connor, Matthew Nieto, and Noel Acciari should be locked in to start the season on the third and fourth lines. This leaves just two spots as the Penguins typically like to carry 13 forwards.
Yohe believes that the final two spots will come down to three players Radim Zohorna, recent waiver pickup Jansen Harkins, and Colin White who is currently on a PTO. Yohe seemed particularly impressed with Harkins, who was acquired off waivers on Monday and at 26 years old, could be a late bloomer. He scored 25 goals in 44 AHL games last season and has played 154 NHL games in his career. Harkins has inserted himself physically in the pre-season, something that the Penguins don’t have a lot of.
Zohorna has bounced around the league since coming to North America in 2020. He has been a member of the Penguins previously, the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs. In 35 NHL games, he has 5 goals and 6 assists, and while those numbers don’t jump off the screen, he has been very effective in the preseason and offers size at 6’6” and 230 pounds.
Yohe believes that Harkins and Zohorna should be the final two players to make the Penguins NHL roster although he does concede that White is a legitimate NHLer with some upside. The Penguins don’t have a lot of scoring options in the bottom six and White is a former first-round pick who has posted 44 goals and 69 assists in 292 NHL games.
Whoever the Penguins elect to cut will likely find work elsewhere, which should make for interesting roster gymnastics as the Penguins try to maximize their forward depth and keep as many players as they can. The Penguins start the season on October 10th against the Chicago Blackhawks and will need to decide their lineup before the start of the season.