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UPDATE: Penguins cut 18 players, including 6 veterans put on waivers

Another round of cuts ahead of the start of AHL training camp

NHL: Preseason-Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

With training camp in Wilkes-Barre about to kick off for the AHL, they obviously need some players. Pittsburgh made a move on Sunday to put six veterans on waivers today. Per James Mirtle, the Penguins have waived forwards Garrett Wilson, Jimmy Hayes and Tobias Lindberg, defensemen Chris Summers and Stefan Elliott and goaltender John Muse.

We’ll find out at noon tomorrow if they clear (probably all will) and at that point they can be all formally and officially assigned to Wilkes-Barre. No real surprises in that list, though really it may be a bit earlier expected for Hayes to be cut. Aside from a three game conditioning stint last season, Hayes has been in the NHL since 2013. He’s still relatively young at 28 and had great size at 6’5, but many weren’t impressed with his skating and he didn’t seem a great fit with the fast, uptempo style that Pittsburgh employs.

It’s possible that tomorrow the Pens may also assign players who don’t need to clear waivers to the AHL as well - and they have several players in this boat that aren’t long for the NHL training camp world. But for now here are the 39 players still officially on the roster, in a rough estimate of whose spot is where with our own added “/” for the what looks like the expected cut line at this point.

UPDATE: In addition to the six on waivers, the Pens cut 12 more players tonight. We’ve scratched out the ones not needing waivers to be sent down. Some tough luck for Blueger and Johnson - who both played well yet had the numbers stacked far against them in the big picture. But, when injuries happen, their camps won’t be forgotten if they can keep a good attitude and perform well in the AHL.

Goaltender (3): Matt Murray, Casey DeSmith, / Tristan Jarry

Defensemen (9): Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, Jack Johnson, Jamie Oleksiak, Chad Ruhwedel /? Juuso Riikola, Will O’Neill, Zach Trotman, Ethan Prow, Jeff Taylor

Forwards (15): Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Derick Brassard, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Carl Hagelin, Riley Sheahan, Matt Cullen, Dominik Simon, Daniel Sprong, Derek Grant /? Zach Aston-Reese, Teddy Blueger, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Adam Johnson, Thomas Di Pauli, Linus Olund, Sam Miletic, Joseph Cramarossa, Anthony Angello, Sam Lafferty, Ryan Haggerty*

*AHL only contract

The remaining battles look to be:

  • DeSmith vs. Jarry for backup goalie, with DeSmith’s strong training camp plus Jarry’s ability to be sent to the AHL without waivers seeming to answer that question already.
  • Can Riikola keep impressing and somehow worm himself into the NHL roster? This has to be the pleasant surprise of the camp, but it reamins to be seen if it’s even possible for the young defenseman to make such an established lineup.
  • Will Aston-Reese be a temporary victim of the numbers game? He wouldn’t require waivers to be sent down to the AHL, and the team seems intent on giving chances to Simon and Sprong. If the team isn’t interested in keeping 14 forwards and doesn’t suffer any injuries it’s tough to see them having a spot for Aston-Reese for Game 1.

27 players remain, the maximum roster prior to the start of the regular season in 23, so at least 4 more remain.

One would think the first three are fairly elementary: Jarry, Trotman and Dea are probably around just for depth of the two last preseason games. That means one of Riikola or Aston-Reese will have to be gone. Perhaps even both might go for salary cap reasons to maximize the amount the Pens can stay under the limit.