Looking for a spark, the Penguins have made some minor roster moves. From a team release:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled forward Adam Johnson from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
Defenseman Juuso Riikola and forward Joseph Blandisi were re-assigned to WBS.
Johnson will be looking to make his NHL debut when the Penguins visit the Nashville Predators on Thursday, March 21 at 8:00 PM ET at Bridgestone Arena.
Johnson, 24, is in his second professional season with the WBS Penguins. This year, he currently ranks second on WBS with 40 points (18G-22A) in 63 games played. He has improved his offensive totals across the board this season, thanks to a recent run where he has notched points in eight of his last 11 games (4G-5A-9PTS).
Blandisi was brought up from the minors after the Zach Aston-Reese injury, with the team looking for an energy fourth line winger. Blandisi got five games in this most recent stint, with only 3-7 minutes per game, mustering five total shots on goal and no points. Blandisi did have five official hits, but overall didn’t stand out much.
Johnson, as the release notes, has seen an uptick in scoring at the minor league level and seems to be in very good form at the moment. He also is a plus skater and should add some speed to the fourth line.
Riikola has been in the NHL all season but only played in 37 of the team’s 74 games. He hasn’t played since March 2nd and only has a handful of games in the last month. With the team already having seven healthy defenseman and expecting the return of Olli Maatta from injury sooner than later, Riikola’s odds of playing in an NHL game in the future was really low. So off to Wilkes-Barre he goes.
We’ll see if Johnson can add any sort of impact at the NHL level, if he can give a bit of energy and life to the bottom line that would be a benefit until Zach Aston-Reese or Evgeni Malkin can return from injuries of their own.