The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that they’ve loaned defenseman John Ludvig and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic to their AHL affiliate the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The loan is for a conditioning stint so both players can get back up to game speed before they rejoin the NHL Penguins. Matt Vensel of Post-Gazette Sports is reporting that both players will be eligible to join the team on Sunday to play NHL games.
Ludvig and Nedeljkovic are both currently on long-term injured reserve and have already joined the Penguins in full practices before their AHL assignment. The Ludvig news is not surprising given that Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan has stated before that Ludvig would have a conditioning assignment, but Nedeljkovic was a bit of a surprise. The Penguins may have opted to allow him more time given that third-string goaltender Magnus Hellberg has filled in admirably for Nedeljkovic. Hellberg has a .922 save percentage in three appearances with a 1-0-0 record.
Ludvig suffered a concussion in his NHL debut on October 24th against the Dallas Stars and hasn’t dressed in a game since. The 23-year-old was a waiver claim before the start of the season and is one of the few Penguins defensemen who offer a bit of sandpaper. The Penguins currently have seven defensemen on their NHL roster and have used Ludvig’s LTIR to call up Vinnie Hinostroza who has been very good on the team’s rejuvenated fourth line.
The Penguins’ third defensive pairing has been a revolving door all season with Ryan Shea and Chad Ruhwedel currently occupying the final pair. Pierre-Olivier Joseph started the year on the left side, but hasn’t been able to hold down a spot and has struggled when he has been re-inserted into the lineup. The Penguins also have Ty Smith in the minors as well as Will Butcher who is injured. Ludvig will give the Penguins further roster options but could also complicate their current roster construction when he is recalled.