Pens Put James Neal on IR, Call Up Harry Zolnierczyk

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

In order to get back to having 12 healthy forwards in the wake of Beau Bennett's minor injury, the Pens have recalled Harry Zolnierczyk from the minors and placed James Neal on IR.

With Beau Bennett (lower body) not playing tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins were down to just 11 healthy forwards, so they had to make a call-up from Wilkes-Barre and it was Harry Zolnierczyk who got the nod. From the team:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled forward Harry Zolnierczyk from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League (AHL), it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.

The Penguins have also placed forward James Neal on injured reserve.

Zolnierczyk, 26, has played in three games with WBS, helping the team post a 3-0 record by scoring a club-high (tied) three goals. He tallied twice in WBS’ 5-2 season-opening defeat of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Oct. 5.

Anaheim Ducks during the offseason. He split last season between the Anaheim Ducks and Philadelphia Flyers organizations, notching one assist in seven NHL games with the Flyers

Interesting pick- Zolnierczyk flashed in several preseason games and practices with his speed and energy. The Penguins know what Chris Conner can do at the NHL level (and more importantly- what he can't do) but they haven't seen Zolnierczyk for very long yet. He's as good a choice as any on the farm, but hopefully Beau Bennett will return from injury sooner than later.

We'll see if the team needs to make any corresponding moves to stay under the upper limit of the salary cap. According to capgeek they may be over it now, but management has said in the past that the numbers they are operating under have a little more wiggle room than the publicly known data. The Pens were also late to announce Matt D'Agostini was on long-term injured reserve (where his salary wouldn't cmount against the cap), and that could be the case for Neal as well.

Though, if they put Neal on LTIR, per rules he'd have to miss 10 games, so he wouldn't be able to return until the game on 10/2t 8 if that's the case. But, given that Neal isn't skating yet and was still described as "week-to-week" by coach Dan Bylsma just yesterday, it's certainly conceivable he might need to be out two more weeks as it is.

We'll see how the big picture plays out, but for now the important thing is the Pens have 12 healthy forwards and will be able to play a normal lineup tonight against the Edmonton Oilers.

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