There was good news afoot at Penguins practice today as injured players Brian Dumoulin, Evan Rodrigues and Mark Jankowski all rejoined their teammates for the first time. All were also participating in non-contact jerseys as well.
But there was no such sighting of Sidney Crosby or assistant coach Todd Reirden, one day after both were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list. The team can’t and won’t be offering any updates.
“It’s in the league’s hands,” Mike Sullivan said after practice.
The lines were similar to last night, with Jankowski back in his customary fourth line center spot in place of where Josh Currie played last night.
Here is the Pens' workflow...— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) March 3, 2021
Rodrigues did a few rushes as well.
The rest of the defensemen rotated.
“The rest of the defensemen rotated” is putting it mildly at the end of a long tweet.
Last night Mark Friedman made his NHL debut and performed pretty well in a sheltered and limited setting with Cody Ceci, who continues to play solid in a third pair role.
The Pens also have depth in the form of Chad Ruhwedel and Juuso Riikola who has recently rejoined the team but remains on IR. And now Dumoulin is back in the mix too.
That’s a total of nine defenders, though Riikola and Dumoulin continue to go through their respective processes to be cleared to return. But it’s easy to see a log jam forming, and that is even with Pierre-Olivier Joseph on the taxi squad and suddenly out of sight and out of mind in terms of the depth chart at the moment.
Given that the Pens are looking heavy on defense — assuming the brave assumption that no one else gets hurt before Dumoulin is able to play again — they’re entering a territory where they will need to make another roster move in light of picking Friedman up from waivers. Maybe it could even be used to bolster the depth forward situation, which is lagging mightily.
Speaking of depth forwards, a familiar face is currently on the old waiver wire.
Dominik Simon (Cgy), Valterri Filppula (Det) and Mason Geertsen (NYR) on waivers today.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 3, 2021
Derek Ryan (Cgy) cleared waivers from yesterday
Dominik Simon didn’t have a point in nine games with Calgary. After his shoulder surgery and down year in 2019-20, it’s very possible his current level of play isn’t NHL caliber any longer. But it’s also hard to believe he would offer less than the Colton Sceviour’s and the Anthony Angello’s and Sam Lafferty’s of the Pens’ current lineup and season.
It’s interesting to consider, but the GM change might stop this dead in the water. If Jim Rutherford was around, perhaps taking a flyer or giving Simon another audition with Pittsburgh makes sense. Ron Hextall has no such connection or intimate base of knowledge about Simon’s tenure. And, as mentioned above, Pittsburgh’s roster is already in a squeeze with players like Rodrigues, Riikola and Dumoulin about to be ready to be removed from the IR and counting against the 23 player limit.
That probably all adds up to a pass on Simon, but the best sign from today for the Pens is it may not be too many more games that they have to be without one of their top defenders in Brian Dumoulin.