The Pittsburgh Penguins have reduced their roster by six players, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
Forwards Bryan Rust and Jean-Sebastien Dea and defenseman Derrick Pouliot have been assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Forward Kevin Porter and defenseman David Warsofsky have been placed on waivers. They will both be assigned to WBS provided they clear waivers on Sunday at noon.
Veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar has been released from his professional tryout contract.
The moves leave the Penguins with 25 players on their roster, including injured forwards Eric Fehr and Tom Kuhnhackl.
With Fehr headed to IR (and Kuhnhackl too, as injured players can not be sent to the minors), the Pens 23-man roster appears to be set.
Here's how the roster looks, in loose form based on how lines ended at the tail end of camp, subject to change of course.
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Phil Kessel
Sergei Plotnikov - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist
Daniel Sprong - Nick Bonino - Pascal Dupuis
David Perron - Matt Cullen - Beau Bennett
Olli Maatta - Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin - Ian Cole
Adam Clendening - Ben Lovejoy
Rob Scuderi, Tim Erixon
The big surprises and notes of interest are:
- Sprong. Goes from 2nd-round pick this summer to making a star-studded and deep Pens forward lineup. He impressed with his skill, confidence and ability to produce points in preseason games. Now the question becomes whether or not this becomes a 9 game tryout before being sent back to Juniors for the season, or if Sprong can keep impressing and force the Pens to keep him past 10 games (and burn the first year of his entry level contract).
- Farnham. Not a good player, but the #energy and #grit has to come from somewhere. And who else would the Pittsburgh hockey media have to fawn over?
- Clendening. Played really well this preseason, at just 22 years old it's a shame he's already waiver eligible, but he deserves a chance to play NHL regular season games.
- Erixon. Not sure what the Pens see in him, but he's big, fairly mobile and has 93 games of NHL experience. Would have to think he's #8 in the pecking order.
- Pouliot. League worst +/- of -8 in the preseason, basically played his way out of the NHL. Hopefully little more than a bump in the road, and at least he'll get to go to the AHL and play a ton of minutes, and hopefully focus on what he has to do in order to get back. It is disappointing, however, that in the Penguins "youth movement" on defense that a key piece like Pouliot simply isn't an NHL caliber player in his own zone right now.
- Gonchar. Last, but not least, the sun sets on the NHL career of the old man. At -7, he wasn't much better than Pouliot defensively and looked like a total liability. It stinks that Father Time caught up with Gonchar, but that's the way of the world. Keeping him would have kept a friendly face for Malkin and Plotnikov, but unfortunately there's just not enough room in the NHL for sentimentality. Nothing to be ashamed of, he got one last crack to make it, but just doesn't have the wheels to keep up any longer.