- The Penguins recently reclassified Alexander Nylander’s recall from an emergency one to a regular one, notes Rob Rossi of The Athletic (Twitter link). In doing so, Nylander is allowed to remain up with the team even when it’s not an emergency situation but it also means they use one of their four allowable post-deadline recalls. They have two remaining now; the other was used on a paper transaction with Drew O’Connor.
Penguins Place Nick Bonino On LTIR, Recall Mark Friedman
Injuries have tested Pittsburgh’s already tricky salary cap situation in recent games and with the back end being banged up at the moment, reinforcements were needed. The Penguins created some short-term cap space to create room for a recall as they announced that center Nick Bonino has been placed on LTIR while recalling blueliner Mark Friedman from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Last weekend, the team revealed that Bonino suffered a lacerated kidney in just his third game with the team. While he had been released from the hospital, he was still ruled out as week-to-week. That now changes to 10 games and 24 days from the date of injury, the minimum requirements for a player to be placed on LTIR. Given the initial timeframe, it’s still possible that Bonino is able to return to the lineup before the end of the regular season.
With the placement, Pittsburgh adds $1.025MM to its LTIR pool; while Bonino’s true cap hit is double that amount, Montreal held back an additional $1.025MM as part of a three-team trade at the deadline earlier this month.
That move allows Pittsburgh to be able to afford Friedman’s $775K cap hit on their active roster. The 27-year-old has played in 11 games with the Penguins this season in a depth role plus another 24 in the minors where he has a goal and five assists in 24 contests.
Notably, the Penguins are still only able to afford just this one recall as the leftover difference between Bonino’s cap hit and Friedman’s plus the $375K they had in their pool before this move (per CapFriendly), is just $625K which is below the $750K league minimum. Accordingly, if more recalls will be needed, they’re going to have to get quite creative to make it happen.
Sidney Crosby Clinches 18th Point-Per-Game Season
Pittsburgh Penguins franchise center Sidney Crosby has moved into sole possession of second place on an impressive list — the number of point-per-game seasons in an NHL career. By reaching 82 points on the year last night, he clinched his 18th straight point-per-game season, moving past Gordie Howe, who had 17. With a point-per-game season next year, he’ll tie Wayne Gretzky for the all-time record with 19.
Those scoring pace statistics are the best way to quantify Crosby’s greatness, given the sheer amount of games he missed due to injury in the early 2010s. While those injuries may limit his place on the main all-time statistics lists, his scoring consistency and ability to adapt his game as the team changes around him should never be overlooked. Crosby’s 83 points in 68 games this season lead the Penguins.
Kris Letang, Jeff Petry Miss Practice
- The Pittsburgh Penguins were without their top two right-shot defensemen at practice today, and head coach Mike Sullivan issued updates on both players. Kris Letang had a maintenance day, and Jeff Petry is still being evaluated, leaving last night’s game against the New York Rangers after taking an elbow to the face from winger Tyler Motte. The two veterans are Pittsburgh’s highest-scoring defensemen this season, despite both missing significant time with multiple injuries.
Penguins Injury Notes: Petry, Bonino, Poehling
For the second straight game, the Pittsburgh Penguins lost the services of defenseman Jeff Petry. The 35-year-old played just three shifts in the first period before he exited the game after taking an elbow from Tyler Motte. Petry also exited Tuesday nights 6-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens with an apparent injury. Petry’s injury luck in the last two games has forced the Penguins defense to play shorthanded in back-to-back games, leaning heavily on Kris Letang who himself has dealt with a series of health issues this season.
If Petry is out for any length of time it would be likely that recent healthy scratch Chad Ruhwedel would draw back into the Penguins lineup. The Penguins do have Mark Friedman and Ty Smith stashed in the minors but would need to move Nick Bonino onto LTIR to call up either player. Ty Smith was quite good in limited NHL action earlier this season, however the young defenseman is still week-to-week with a facial fracture.
In other Penguins injury news:
- Seth Rorabaugh is reporting that Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan told tonight’s MSG broadcast that Pittsburgh expects center Nick Bonino to be back by the playoffs. Bonino was re-acquired on trade deadline day by the Penguins to center their fourth line but was only able to dress in a handful of games after spending most of the season with the San Jose Sharks. Jeff Carter has taken Bonino’s spot on the fourth line in recent games but has struggled mightily going -4 in just 8:28 of ice time on Tuesday against Montreal.
- Ryan Poehling did return to action tonight after missing over a month with a lingering upper body injury. The young forward saw duty on the fourth line next to Jeff Carter and Josh Archibald. Poehling’s return could create an interesting situation on the Penguins fourth line should Jeff Carter continue to struggle. Poehling was centering the unit earlier in the season prior to the injury and showed good chemistry with Drew O’Connor and Danton Heinen.
Injury Notes: Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins
Detroit Red Wings coach Derek LaLonde announced that defenseman Ben Chiarot is week-to-week with an upper body injury, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.
Chiarot played just over 19 minutes in Detroit’s 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. He is in the first season of a four-year contract with the Red Wings at a cap hit of $4.75MM.
Other injury notes from around the NHL:
- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Ryan Poehling has been activated from injured reserve, the team announced on Twitter. Poehling last played on Feb. 11 in a 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. He has 11 points in 38 games this season for the Pens, his first in Pittsburgh. Poehling has scored 18 goals in his career, three of which came in his NHL debut in 2019. Also announced by the Penguins was Alexander Nylander’s recall status being updated from emergency recall to regular recall. Nylander has played four games for Pittsburgh this season, recording an assist, and has played well in the AHL, with 25 goals and 25 assists for 50 points in 54 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Metropolitan Notes: Penguins, Hart, Chatfield
According to Rob Rossi of The Athletic, a pair of Pittsburgh Penguins have seemingly dodged a bullet when it comes to injuries. The Penguins appeared to be in a difficult spot when Jeff Petry and Jan Rutta both left Tuesday night’s game early with injuries. It seemed unlikely they would have the cap space to make a recall and even find six healthy defensemen for their game with the New York Rangers tonight.
However, somewhat surprisingly, it sounds like both Petry and Rutta will be good to go tonight. Both players participated in morning skate and said afterwards that they expect to be in the lineup this evening. The team even said forward Ryan Poehling is likely to be activated from long-term injured reserve and play for the first time since February 11.
- Olivia Reiner of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Carter Hart was back with the Philadelphia Flyers at practice this morning. Hart missed the team’s last game with an illness, but appears to have recovered quickly and could be in goal when they face the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night. Hart has a 2.96 GAA and a .906 SV% in 48 games this season.
- Walt Ruff of NHL.com reports Jalen Chatfield is back as a full participant for the Carolina Hurricanes. The right defenseman was skating on the third pairing with Shayne Gostisbehere with a regular jersey on instead of the no-contact jersey he had been using. Chatfield has not played since March 7, but head coach Rob Brind’Amour says he hopes Chatfield will be ready to step back into the lineup either when the Hurricanes take on the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night or the Flyers on Saturday.
Rutta And Petry Injuries Could Create Cap Crunch For Penguins
With Jan Rutta and Jeff Petry both leaving Tuesday’s game against Montreal with undisclosed injuries, the Penguins were forced to finish that contest with four blueliners. As Matt Vensel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, they might not be able to dress six for Thursday’s contest against the Rangers. Even with Dmitry Kulikov going on LTIR earlier today, that still only opens up enough cap space for one recall with Anaheim holding back half of Kulikov’s cap hit. That means that Pittsburgh could bring up Mark Friedman or Taylor Fedun from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Ty Smith is injured) but they would still have to play short a blueliner for a game before becoming eligible for a cap-exempt emergency recall. Of course, if one of Rutta or Petry can suit up against New York, they’ll be able to ice a full lineup.
Pittsburgh Penguins Place Dmitry Kulikov On Long-Term Injured Reserve
The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that defenseman Dmitry Kulikov has been placed on long-term injured reserve retroactive to March 12th. The move comes after Kulikov was knocked out of Sunday’s contest against the New York Rangers with a lower-body injury.
At the time, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan told the media that Kulikov would be out on a week-to-week basis, and now the team has effectively confirmed that timeline by placing him on the long-term injured reserve list.
The veteran defenseman’s injury comes at an unfortunate time for Pittsburgh, as the team is looking to build some momentum and secure their spot in the playoffs. Kulikov was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks before the trade deadline and has played largely in a bottom-pairing role alongside offseason acquisition Jan Rutta.
While Kulikov averaged over 20 minutes of ice time in Southern California, he’s played a more limited role in Pittsburgh. As a Penguin, he’s averaging just under 13 minutes of ice time per game, but is logging nearly two of those minutes on the penalty kill.
While he’s a defenseman who is typically at his best when he goes unnoticed on the ice, the experience and stability he would bring to the Penguins’ bottom-pairing and penalty kill is valuable. In his place, Sullivan paired Pierre-Olivier Joseph next to Rutta, and Joseph struggled in over 17 minutes of ice time in the team’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Seeing as starting netminder Tristan Jarry has struggled immensely in recent games, it’s a difficult time for the team to lose such an experienced veteran defenseman like Kulikov.
While Pittsburgh eventually clinching a playoff spot seems like the likeliest outcome at the moment, (they have 78 points and two games in hand on the New York Islanders, who sit two points behind them in the second Wild Card Spot) losing Kulikov will certainly make things a little more difficult.
Sam Poulin Returns To Penguins Organization
In December, Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Samuel Poulin announced that he would be taking a leave of absence from the organization for personal reasons. The Penguins expressed their full support for his decision allowing him the needed time.
Today, in an Instagram post, Poulin announced his return:
Three months ago I made a decision to take a break from hockey, and return home to take care of myself and my mental health. After seeking the help I needed, I am now ready to return to Wilkes-Barre and rejoin my team.
I want to thank everyone who helped get me through this difficult time, including my family, my girlfriend, my friends, my medical team, the entire Pittsburgh Penguins organziation, my teammates, and the fans, who showed unconditional love and support.
I strongly encourage everyone to speak openly about mental health because it affects us all. For those who may be struggling, please know that you are not alone.
The 2019 first-round pick scored four goals in 13 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and made his NHL debut with Pittsburgh before taking his leave. Now 22, he still has another year left on his entry-level contract and has time to live up to the high expectations he brought out of the QMJHL.
Whether he makes it back to the NHL and becomes an impact player remains to be seen, but he and the team chose to prioritize his mental health—a decision no one can fault.