Pittsburgh Penguins forward Reilly Smith has had a slow start to his first campaign with the team, as his 41-point scoring pace is a notable decline from last season, when he scored 56 points in 78 games. Smith has been struck with even worse luck, as after a hit from Nikita Zadorov in last night’s game Smith is believed to be out “longer-term” with an upper-body injury. (via SportsNet Pittsburgh’s Hailey Hunter)
Smith is currently playing third-line minutes alongside Lars Eller and Valtteri Puustinen, and will need to be replaced for the foreseeable future. Big Radim Zahorna has been a healthy scratch and could step right in, or alternatively, the team could opt to call up a player from its AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. The Penguins traded Wilkes-Barre Scranton’s leading scorer, Rem Pitlick, to the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this month, so it’s likely if there is a recall a player such as Alex Nylander is the one who receives it.
Other injury updates:
- The Winnipeg Free Press’ Mike McIntyre relayed word this afternoon from Jets head coach Rick Bowness on the injury status of Mark Scheifele. Bowness said Scheifele is day-to-day, and not ruled out for tomorrow’s game. He also called that development “very good news.” He’s certainly correct on that point as the Jets are among the NHL’s best teams this season and Scheifele’s production is all but irreplaceable. He’s got 14 goals and 41 points this season after setting a career-high mark of 42 goals in 2022-23.
- The Athletic’s Michael Russo reports that injured Minnesota Wild stars Kirill Kaprizov, Jonas Brodin, and Filip Gustavsson are all “getting extra work and contact now.” Russo notes that “how they respond will determine when they can play,” adding that there is a possibility for some to even play in the team’s game tomorrow against the Arizona Coyotes. Getting just one of those players back at the very least would be a massively positive development for a Wild team that looked really strong at the start of new coach John Hynes’ tenure only to fall back as injuries to key contributors built up.