A few random thoughts swirling around that aren’t worthy to stand alone but can be mashed together to talk about.
#1: A minor trade
The Penguins made a trade today!
That sounds more exciting than it actually was, it means nothing at the NHL level
The Penguins have acquired forward Graham Knott from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Joseph Cramarossa. The forward will be assigned to the @WBSPenguins.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 20, 2019
Full details: https://t.co/XuLx75qPyB pic.twitter.com/Rcr5QERIA3
No doubt this has the influence of Wilkes-Barre coach and general manager Mike Velucci on it. Joseph Cramarossa, 27, was in his third season with WB/S, had just three points (2g+1a) being used as a veteran in just nine games this season. It’s good for Cramarossa to move on to a new organization.
The return is pretty interesting. Graham Knott, 22, is quite a bit younger than an AHL hand in Cramarossa. Knott was a 2nd round pick (51st overall) in 2015 which isn’t that long ago. However, he has been playing only in the ECHL this season, putting up nine points (5g+4a) in 13 games with the Indianapolis Fuel. Knott did play 56 AHL games with the Rockford Icehogs, putting up 13 points (4g+9a). Is he young enough to have a future? Perhaps. It’s probably a low upside but basically a no risk move.
It’s meaningful for WB/S, sice there’s limits on how many vets can dress in each game. Making this change for them helps balance out a roster that’s already too heavy probably with veteran players. Knott only being in the ECHL in his third pro season doesn’t portend to an NHL future (neither does light scoring junior seasons either) but it’s at least a fresh face and non-vet for Velucci to utilize.
#2: Schultz leaves hurt
Justin Schultz left practice hurt, and according to Yohe it might be a groin injury
Was told Justin Schultz left practice today with a groin injury. Level of severity isn’t clear.— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) November 20, 2019
Never in organized hockey history have I heard of a groin injury/tinge/discomfort on Wednesday afternoon leading to playing the next night but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Could that be.....Chad Ruhwedel’s music? Have to feel a bit sorry for Ruhwedel, a healthy scratch for the first 21 games in the season. He would finally figure to be in the game lineup if Schultz is unable to go, given that Kris Letang hasn’t joined in full team practice yet.
#3: Emil Larmi, good guy
If you’ve seen anything about Wilkes-Barre’s rookie goalie Emil Larmi (and his social media is a must follow!) you already know he’s a quality young man that loves to have fun. Here’s more
#4 Wilkes’ rookies struggling
We got a question on the Pensburgh podcast that drops tomorrow (free plug) asking about AHL young players that could make an NHL impact. And other than Sam Lafferty, who has borderline graduated to NHL, it....hasn’t been great for the 2019-20 crop of AHL rookies. Consider:
2019 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25 No.9: Kasper Bjorkqvist; training camp slowed by off-season shoulder surgery. Only played six AHL games; 1 goal, 0 assists. Recently had knee surgery and is out for six months, which will basically wash out the rest of his rookie season.
Pensburgh T25U25 No. 8: Jordy Bellerive; only two goals and one assists in 16 AHL games, mostly as a lower line player. Was his career trajectory permanently altered by the summer 2018 fire accident that badly burned his hands? It might be too early to stick a fork in him totally, he’s still young and his professional career just began but Bellerive’s arrow has to be pointing down as of late as he’s basically lost in the shuffle of a deep AHL team.
Pensburgh T25U25 No. 6: Pierre-Olivier Joseph; a prize in the Phil Kessel trade, the 20-year old Joseph has only played six AHL games and has been out a month with a case of mono. That’s a tough one to take in a very important developmental year.
So, yeah, not very promising beginnings for the most promising AHL rookie prospects in the Pens’ system this year. Which is kind of ironic since the 2019 draftees of Samuel Poulin and Nathan Legare have been doing awesome in the junior leagues. So it goes.
#5 Horny time?
Will the Pens get Patric Hornqvist back tomorrow? Coach Mike Sullivan, natch, listed him as a game-time decision for the game, and after a few full contact practices you would think he’s getting mighty close. Hornqvist’s return would push Lafferty back to center and Joseph Blandisi to healthy scratch/13th forward territory.
Hornqvist took part in rushes. Here's how the #Pens lines looked:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) November 20, 2019
*Schultz ended up leaving practice.
Perhaps more importantly, Hornqvist’s return would give Pittsburgh the net-front power play presence they’ve so missed (doubly so with Nick Bjugstad now on the shelf who was trying to fill that void).
Regardless, no doubt if an NHL team can add a Patric Hornqvist and scratch a Blandisi, they’re getting better. Pittsburgh should be able to do that pretty soon, which is finally some good news from the injury front.