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Penguins clear roster space by sending Friedman to AHL, two others to IR

What are they up to?

2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic - Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Penguins were sitting at 23 players on their roster this morning, the maximum allowed at this time of year. Then, in a series of moves, they got to 20 by sending Mark Friedman back to Wilkes-Barre and also placing Tristan Jarry and Ryan Poehling on IR.

The Friedman move foretells of good news to come — without him Pittsburgh only have six defensemen on the roster. That is below what teams prefer to carry, which likely means that Kris Letang (non-roster family reasons) and/or Jeff Petry (long term injured reserve) could be back on the playing roster fairly soon.

Letang has been away from the team with his family in Montreal after the passing of his father. The rest of the team diverted their charter jet and spent their off-day at the funeral on Monday. Letang was also dealing with a minor injury, but could be recovered with all this time off.

Petry hasn’t skated with the team in a practice setting, but has been working out on his own.

Players only have to stay on IR for a minimum of seven days, so the Pens are free to remove Poehling and Jarry whenever they want from that. Poehling has been dealing with a nagging upper body injury for most of the last month and has not been seen on the ice in some time. Jarry got the pads on for some individual drills (sans pucks) yesterday prior to the game day skate for the first time since being injured in the Winter Classic on January 2nd.

Josh Archibald is also on the IR currently.

As the roster churns, time will tell exactly what the next steps are — but the removal of Friedman from the NHL roster is probably the most notable and encouraging sign that the Penguins’ blueline is about to be improved in the near future with the potential return to the roster by Letang.