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Penguins roster almost set, Zach Aston-Reese and Zach Trotman sent to AHL

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Two more cuts leave the Pens even closer to their 2018-19 opening night lineup

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Bad day to be named “Zach” in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization today. The two Zach’s were cut today. From a team release:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have assigned forward Zach Aston-Reese and defenseman Zach Trotman to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Attached is the Penguins’ current 24-man roster, which includes 13 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders.

The Penguins begin the 2017-18 regular season on Thursday, October 4 by hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals at 7:00 PM at PPG Paints Arena.

The remaining players are as follows:

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel

Dominik Simon - Derick Brassard - Bryan Rust

Matt Cullen - Riley Sheahan - Derek Grant

Daniel Sprong

-

Juuso Riikola - Kris Letang

Olli Maatta - Jack Johnson

Jamie Oleksiak - Justin Schultz

Chad Ruhwedel

Brian Dumoulin

-

Matt Murray

Casey DeSmith

Tristan Jarry

****

The Pens have 24 players remaining, the healthy roster has to be down to 23 by tomorrow afternoon.

Up front, with the decision to start Aston-Reese in the AHL, the opening night lineup looks about set. Sprong (knee injury, day-to-day) skated in a no-contact jersey on Monday. He hasn’t been ruled out with injury for Thursday night, but given how his preseason trended with downward performances, he’s looking like he will be the scratch be it healthy or not.

At goalie, there’s an easy solution too. The Pens could put the injured Jarry on IR (or assign to the AHL if healthy) to take themselves down to 23 players. DeSmith wasn’t on waivers today, so that’s a pretty clear indicator he is likely to be on the roster tomorrow at this time, thus whether it’s to IR or the minors, removing Jarry seems a mere formality at this point.

By also not putting Ruhwedel on waivers today, Pittsburgh is locked in to have him on the roster tomorrow afternoon. It’s not a surprise but Ruhwedel is officially making the roster. Dumoulin skated before practice today, he isn’t officially in or out of the opening night lineup yet either but the clock is ticking (plus why rush something in the very beginning of the season)? It’s still yet to be confirmed, but looking more likely that Riikola may make the NHL club and dress on Thursday night unless Dumoulin really advances soon.

Most common salary cap scenarios at a glance

Via capfriendly

If Jarry is placed on IR and no further cuts leaving Riikola among 23-man roster: $70,000 under the cap

If Jarry is healthy and sent back to AHL and team keeps 23 players to start: $745,000 under cap

If Jarry sent to AHL, Dumoulin healthy so Riikola also sent to AHL and team keeps 22 players to start: $1,670,000 under cap

—Much like last season, when the Pens scraped in a mere $950 under the upper limit of the salary cap, if they have to carry Jarry’s salary while he recoups from an injury they will be juuust barely under the limit.

As a reminder, the salary cap is very complicated and calculated on a daily basis on a pro-rated measure, so players are only counting while “on the books”. Jarry’s injury was said to be day-to-day as well, when he’s healthy enough to be assigned to the AHL he will come off the NHL salary cap and the team will book more money for those days he is gone. Same story with Riikola, whom I imagine the Pens will send to Wilkes-Barre when Dumoulin gets back (assuming no other NHL defensemen get hurt in the interim).