38 games into the 2013-14 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins have almost used as many players (33) as they have had games played. With so many injuries, there have been a ton of roster movement to fill the holes in the roster. It’s been difficult to keep up with the revolving door of new players, so let’s take the time to rank who’s contributed the most of the 9 call-ups to have played in the NHL this season. This was difficult list to compile, as basically all of the players called up from Wilkes-Barre have played very well and all have helped contribute to the winning streak that Pittsburgh has been able to go on.
#9 Andrew Ebbett (5games played, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, 0 PIMs)
--5 games without too much fanfare, then he got added to the unrelenting injury heap with a broken ankle. The timing is really unfortunate since Ebbett probably would have been played in more NHL games, given the lack of depth and injury situation that Pittsburgh is dealing with. Who knows what the Pens will look like when Ebbett is healed up, but it’s hard to imagine them more banged up than they are right now, so it’s probably back to the minors when he’s able to return.
#8 Zach Sill (11gp, 0g, 0a, 0p, 10 PIMs)
--No offensive output whatsoever- zero goals for while on the ice- but Sill’s played physical. His 32 hits, 10 blocked shots and 2 fights in limited minutes are impressive, which is about all that’s asked of a 4th liner, especially one getting his first taste of NHL games. Sill has also been playing an average of 2:01 per night on the penalty kill, including some situations in close games in the 3rd period. That’s a tremendous sign of trust by the coaching staff, and Sill hasn’t let them down.
#7 Chris Conner (15gp, 3g, 1a, 4p, 2 PIMs)
--Conner has produced a few key goals, but his Corsi For % and his Fenwick advanced stats are, by far, the worst on the entire team. He’s been pressed into a 3rd line checking role as of late, and that appears to be more of a role than he’s suited for.
#6 Philip Samuelsson (4gp, 0g, 0a, 0p, 0 PIMs)
--Son of Ulf made his NHL debut and has played the last four games and about the best thing you can say is he hasn’t been that visible. For a rookie NHL defenseman that’s not an insult. Philip has been decent defensively (3 hits, 6 blocked shots, 1 takeaway) to go along with 4 giveaways that are to be expected from such a green player.
#5 Harry Zolnierczyk (7gp, 1g, 0a, 1p, 6 PIMs)
--Might be most famous for his brief cameo in 24/7 when the ref cursed him and Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf, sending both to the penalty box for an unsportsmanlike minor. Harry Z is a pest like a gnat, flying around, annoying players, using his speed to try and create opportunities on the forecheck. He had a nice tip-in goal last game, which was the first 5v5 goal for or against that he’s been on the ice for all NHL season.
#4 Brian Gibbons (6gp, 1g, 1a, 2p, 2 PIMs)
--Had a 2 point night in his first NHL game, to provide the scoring needed to help the Pens beat a good Ducks team, so that’s a plus. Otherwise, this center by trade has been slotted mostly as a wing in the NHL and hasn’t looked too out of place in limited and often sheltered minutes. Despite that, his CF% is a very solid 53.3% and he’s a guy who’s strong AHL production (he was that league’s leading scorer for a time earlier in the year) has earned him a spot on the NHL team’s radar, which probably wasn’t the case prior to this season.
#3 Brian Dumoulin (5gp 0g, 1a, 1p, 4 PIMs)
--Having to make his NHL debut in a very trying time for injuries, Dumoulin has looked like a season pro at times. His puck moving and skating also has gotten him time on the #1 power play unit, which just sounds inconceivable for a few weeks ago. Dumoulin, as advertised, is big, steady defensively and will only get better and better as he gains more experience. He’s looked like a keeper.
#2 Simon Despres (13 gp, 0g, 4a, 4p, 10 PIMs)
--Despres appeared to be a man out of favor at the beginning of the season, demoted to the minors after a poor training camp. However, he focused on his defensive element of his game, got a recall and has played a simple and effective game. This year, for instance, Despres has 24 hits and 21 blocked shots in 13 NHL games. Those numbers are much better than last season (33 games, 48 hits, 31 blocked shots). Attention to defensive detail has paid off for Despres who has the best Corsi For % of any defenseman not named Matt Niskanen and Despres has only been on ice for 3 goals against in almost 200 minutes of 5v5 time.
#1 Jayson Megna (14 games played, 4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points, 0 PIMs)
--Megna has been a revelation at the NHL level, showing off impressive speed and a surprising amount of scoring touch to convert on the opportunities his speed has generated. He’s been good enough to play on a line with Evgeni Malkin and not totally look out of place which is more than you can say for most of the revolving door of wingers that Malkin has seen in 2013. Unfortunately though, after a collision with Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier, the team has announced that Megna is out for the next 6 weeks with a lower body -injury. Hopefully he’ll be back after the Olympic break and be able to continue his impressive rookie season.