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Pens Points: Riikola hits the waiver wire

The Penguins waive defenseman Juuso Riikola

Pittsburgh Penguins v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

By all accounts, Juuso Riikola had a pretty good training camp. But he still is eighth on the depth chart of defenders and got waived on Friday. That doesn’t necessarily mean he has to be assigned to the minors if he clears, but with two forwards with COVID issues, the Penguins might only be able to carry seven defensemen to start the season. [Twitter - Chris Johnston]

One such forward with COVID, Zach Aston-Reese, skated on his own yesterday in Cranberry in a first step towards getting back to normalcy. [Tribune Review]

While Jake Guentzel remains sidelined and appears to be awaiting the consecutive negative tests in order to begin his own comeback. Bryan Rust reported talking to Guentzel who is chilling, but perhaps getting bored awaiting his clearance. [Twitter]

Mike Sullivan isn’t ready to say as of yet if Aston-Reese and/or Guentzel will be able to play in the season opener on Tuesday, but neither are officially ruled out just yet either. [Twitter - Wes Crosby]

Mike Matheson left practice early yesterday with what Sullivan called a nagging lower body injury that didn’t sound very serious [Twitter - Pens Inside Scoop]

The son of a plumber, The American err French-Canadien dream Nathan Legare is making dreams become a reality by becoming a pro hockey player, daddeh. [Post-Gazette]

Kris Letang’s conditioning and physical status is the stuff of legend. The defender even played 28 minutes in his last preseason game and is showing even at age 34 that he will be relied on as much as ever this season for the Pens. []

Last night in preseason AHL action, the Wilkes-Barre Penguins lost 5-4 to Hershey. Jan Drozg notched two goals for the Pens. [Twitter - WBS Pens]

Milestone watch is on. Sidney Crosby is 14 goals away from 500 and 75 points away from 1,400. He’s already going to miss some time to start the season so we’ll see how that goes. Old pal Marc-Andre Fleury is eight wins away from 500. []

And from around the league..

Alex Ovechkin left the Capitals’ final preseason game last night with an injury and didn’t return. His status is huge, and another Pittsburgh/Washington parallel with Crosby/Evgeni Malkin and Nicklas Backstrom all on the shelf for the start of the season, will Ovechkin join them? [NHL]

It’s looking like 19-year old Dawson Mercer, the 18th overall pick in 2020, is making a run at making his NHL debut for the Devils this season. [All About the Jersey]

The Islanders/Devils game last night was cancelled due to a power outage. It’s preseason for the buildings too, apparently. [ESPN]

The Blackhawks made some cuts, and one of their new defensemen, Caleb Jones, is out for six weeks with a bum wrist. [Second City Hockey]

As part of announcing the first three players for the Olympic teams, Malkin wasn’t on Russia’s first blast of names, but health permitting he’s still expected to be their top center. [NHL]

Brady Tkachuk remains unsigned as the season quickly approaches and pressure builds to find a bridge deal that works for player and team up in Ottawa. [Sportsnet]

Aleksander Barkov has a rich eight year, $10.0 million cap hit kicking in next season, but compared to some other centers in the $10 million range, Barkov might still be a relative bargain for the Panthers. [Sportsnet]