Friday at midnight, the NHL holiday trade freeze went into effect, putting a stop on transactions through December 27.
Saturday morning, the Penguins announced the recalls of defensemen Taylor Chorney and Derrick Pouliot.
Pouliot is the AHL Penguins' leading scorer and Pittsburgh's top prospect. A slate of injuries to the current defense corps and the apparently ever-present possibility that the rest of them will be stricken with mumps at any time made it necessary that the Penguins hit their upcoming stretch (three games in four days) with enough hands onboard.
Pouliot, 20, leads WBS in scoring this season with 20 points (7G-13A) in 23 games. His 13 assists also pace the club. Pouliot's point total ranks fourth (tied) among all AHL rookies and fifth overall among all AHL blueliners.
The 6-foot, 208-pound Pouliot was Pittsburgh's first-round (8th overall) draft pick in 2012. He has seven points (5G-2A) in seven games during the month of December.
Pouliot played four-plus years of junior hockey with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he was coached by current Penguins head coach Mike Johnston. Pouliot was the CHL and WHL Defenseman of the Year last season.
The Penguins used their 8th-overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft (the big prize of the deal that sent Jordan Staal to the then-Jim Rutherford led Carolina Hurricanes) to select Pouliot.
While in juniors, Pouliot played for Mike Johnston in Portland, where the two annually found great success as part of a very good Winterhawks team.
With ailments afflicting Olli Maatta (mumps, shoulder), Christian Ehrhoff (lower body) and Robert Bortuzzo (illness), the team needs to hedge against further injury.
Pittsburgh has already recalled its top-three defense prospects this season. Brian Dumoulin has appeared in a few games already, while Scott Harrington made his NHL debut Thursday against the Avalanche.
Should Pouliot join those two at any point in game action, the Penguins will be getting a real look at that group of defense prospects that has so long been touted as the team's can't-miss organizational strength.