The sloppy, rain-soaked Stadium Series game between heated rivals yielded two injuries to arguably the worst spots in the Penguins’ lineup.
As we reported Sunday morning, Mike Sullivan officially stated that defensemen Brian Dumoulin (concussion) and Kris Letang (undisclosed) were evaluated and will be out for some time.
Being that this is the Penguins’ best and most consistent defensive pairing, it comes as a huge blow to an already depleted group. Olli Maatta still has yet to come back from a shoulder injury he sustained a couple weeks ago as well, and he likely won’t see the ice for another two weeks, minimum.
Where does that leave the team?
Does Jim Rutherford quickly scramble to sign a cheap defenseman before the trade deadline ends? Will we see a call-up from WBS? Both?
If Dumoulin and Letang are each out for an extended period of time, both might be the correct option, and if a WBS player needs to be recalled, it should be 2019 AHL All-Star Ethan Prow.
The WBS Penguins and ECHL affiliate Wheeling Nailers already made some roster moves this morning, likely meaning a WBS Penguin will be making his way to Pittsburgh.
Prow is lauded for his ability to move the puck. He’s ranked second on the team in points (39), second in goals (15), and first in assists (24). To boot, eight of his 15 goals have come on the man-advantage, so succeeding as the quarterback on the power play comes naturally for him. Prow’s skating is effortless as well, and he has an uncanny ability to get pucks to the net with his shot. Plus-minus doesn’t have any merit remaining in hockey anymore, but it goes to say that he’s a plus-23 this season, leading WBS.
Given his skill set, his game follows more closely to Letang’s than it does Dumoulin’s, but even though he isn’t your typical stay at home defensive-defenseman, Prow makes up for his slight deficiencies everywhere else. His game has always appeared to trend towards the offense, but he’s really put it together this season, getting his offense to work at the pro level.
Prow’s biggest attribute, however, is the fact that he’s right-handed. Sullivan is adamant about keeping the left-right balance on all of his defensive pairings, so that’s a huge indicator Prow will be the guy getting the phone call. In his third full season at this level, things are really seeming to click for him. He’s having his best performance as a WBS Penguin, and his stat lines have only gotten better year-to-year.
Jim Rutherford has a couple options to mull over, but considering the situation the Penguins find themselves in so close to playoff time, Prow has proven he deserves a shot at the NHL if the GM decides to play it that way.