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Penguins release Jay McClement from PTO

Veteran center Jay McClement’s bid to make the Penguins falls just short as he gets cut today

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins decided to release their lone tryout today, when they cut center Jay McClement loose. From the team’s email:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have released forward Jay McClement from his professional tryout contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

The Penguins have 24 players remaining on their training camp roster (14 forwards; 8 defensemen; 2 goalies)

McClement, 34, had been known in the analytical world as one of the worst players in recent years at 5v5 play for advanced stat shot-based measures. But he also had been very good at faceoffs and penalty killing, and has been a trusted veteran in a defensive role.

One major reason McClement couldn’t make the Pens was the emergence of 25-year old center Greg McKegg. McKegg split time last season with the Florida Panthers (31 games, 3 goals, 3 assists) and then was claimed on waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning (15 games, 0 goals, 1 assist). He also played seven games last season with AHL Springfield (2 g+2a).

McKegg impressed at training camp and was chosen to play in six of the team’s preseason games, a number that even historian Bob Grove recognized as something special for the sheer number of games that the coaches wanted to see a player.

“The Kegger” has looked decent enough in the improvised 3rd line role, and it appears that the team has always liked Carter Rowney to be one of the centers on their team, rendering McClement, unfortunately for him, an excess piece that’s now been cast away.

As the team mentioned, they have 24 players, which means they have at least one more player to cut to get under the regular season maximum of 23. Of the remaining, the bubble would seem to be cutting one of the following players: Derrick Pouliot or Chad Ruhwedel if the team wants to carry 7 healthy defensemen (as is customary for NHL teams due to practice restraints and norms) or one forward which would be Josh Archibald.

One other option could be placing injured forward Patric Hornqvist on the IR (keeping him out at least the first 10 days of the season) but the team has repeatedly say they hoped/expected he would be able to play from the beginning of the season. If he isn’t on track for that, it might be the last of the cuts, though strictly from the dollars and cents of the salary cap, it is would be advantageous to cut one of Pouliot/Ruhwedel/Archibald and bank more cap space moving forward, regardless of Hornqvist’s availability for day 1.