The Penguins have been sticking to 12 healthy forwards as of late, which makes sense because Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist and Nick Bjugstad are all counting against the salary cap while injured. They don’t need and shouldn’t be keeping extra healthy bodies around up front.
And, in an interesting move, Joseph Blandisi has at least temporarily moved past Stefan Noesen in the Pens’ eyes for wanting to keep in the NHL. Because it’s Noesen (0 points in the last five games after scoring a goal in his debut) that is on waivers today, presumably to be sent to Wilkes-Barre tomorrow.
On NHL waivers today: *Austin Czarnik (CGY), Eric Comrie (DET) and Stefan Noesen (PIT).— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 18, 2019
And while ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski speculated the space could be opening up for free agent Ilya Kovalchuk, Bob McKenzie dropped a hammer that Pittsburgh has no interest in Kovalchuk.
PIT and CGY waiver moves aren’t related in any way to Kovalchuk because neither club has interest in signing him.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 18, 2019
This outcome always seemed the most likely, Kovalchuk is aged and doesn’t score like he used to. And when he doesn’t score he doesn’t help the team, and may be a net-negative anyways given his beyond awful numbers with the Kings the past two seasons.
The intrigue of Kovalchuk’s big shot and power play prowess, plus the positive relationship with his bud Evgeni Malkin was probably worth at least considering for half a second, but in the end the natural conclusion for Pittsburgh (and McKenzie said Calgary and later Boston too) was that Kovalchuk’s remaining juice isn’t worth the squeeze, so to say.
So I guess it will be interesting to see what, if any, NHL market is out there for Kovalchuk in almost the year 2020. The number of teams that might have interest or a need for him seems to be rapidly letting it known that that they are planning on passing.