The Penguins have been enjoying a lull in the schedule this week, and after having an off-day on Monday (where an undisclosed but reportedly large number of players and staff were given a COVID vaccination) the team held an off-ice workout session today. NHL teams are fairly swiftly moving towards getting these shots down (many of the Rangers were able to get shots last week) as supply of the vaccine increases and becomes available to more of the population.
Coach Mike Sullivan and the newest Penguin Jeff Carter spoke to the media, here are the biggest tidbits:
Sullivan is asked if Carter or McCann would be center if both are on the same line. He says there will be an "exploratory process." But his first inclination is using Carter at center. #Pens— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) April 13, 2021
The versatility of the addition for Sullivan to use at center or wing is something Sullivan was pleased to bring to the table.
Coach Sullivan on Carter's versatility: "It's real important and it's a bonus for our team... It gives us the ability as a coaching staff to look for combinations that are complimentary and give us the balance that's necessary to win consistently."— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) April 13, 2021
One reason Carter will be needed as a center is because Frederick Gaudreau will be out for a while. Really unfortunate break for him to be knocked out of the lineup as he was starting to really grow into a niche for the Pens.
Injury updates from Coach Sullivan:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) April 13, 2021
- Gaudreau is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
- Malkin skated this morning and is continuing his progress.
- Kapanen skated this morning for the first time. "We'll see how he responds to that, but certainly that's encouraging."
Kasperi Kapanen returning to the ice is a positive development. Yesterday Ron Hextall estimated it could be 10-14 days until Kapanen is back, and today is certainly another step in that direction. Out of where all the injured players are in their rehabs, from the updates provided it does feel like Kapanen should be the next to return based on the mood the Pens have given.
As to be expected, Carter sounds invigorated by joining a good team and gearing up to try and make a run in the playoffs.
Jeff Carter on what he's excited for after joining the Penguins: "Having a chance to win. That's the ultimate goal, no matter where you are. The run they're on and the position we're in, it's exciting. I can't wait to get back to the playoffs and make a run at it."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 13, 2021
Carter was also pretty firm about dismissing a rumor that he might retire after this season and the 36-year old fully intends to play hockey next year. He has one more year remaining on his contract at a cap hit for the Penguins of just over $2.6 million.
The Pens will be back on the ice tomorrow for practice as they shift gears and ready themselves for their next game on Thursday night. Ironically, or fittingly enough, it’s against the Flyers — the team that drafted Carter and where he played the first 461 games of his career from 2005-11.