The Penguins have added a player off waivers, according to multiple sources from the breaking 2:00pm daily news cycle of the NHL releasing the waiver reports. And it’s...forward Jansen Harkins.
PIT claims Jansen Harkins— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 2, 2023
Jansen Harkins, 26, is a former second round draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets. He’s spent his whole career to this point with Winnipeg. He stayed in the NHL for the entirety of the shortened 2020-21 season and then was a regular for the Jets in 2021-22. However, last year Harkins was back to splitting time between the NHL and AHL, including two stints on waivers last season where he went unclaimed both times.
Harkins has one year left on his contract at a $850,000 cap hit. He will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Harkins fits with the mold of Kyle Dubas depth adds: he’s got a limited offensive profile in the NHL but an extremely good defensive impact.
Though listed as a center in some places, Harkins rarely took faceoffs for the Jets and operates more as a winger at the NHL level. The obvious place that the Penguins might want to see Harkins for the last week of camp and see what he has to offer is as a fourth line left winger. Players like Vinnie Hinostroza and more recently tryout Austin Wagner have been in this spot as of late.
Now Pittsburgh gets about a week to tryout Harkins in this sort of role to see if he might be better than what they have on hand. If so, Harkins will have a chance to make the team. If not, the Pens can turn around and waive him again at any point. The move likely figures to be no-risk with very limited-reward due to Harkins’ ceiling and limitations, but he’s not a terribly old player and had an under-the-radar but nice enough looking 2022-23 to take a chance on getting a free preview.
And, at worst, if Winnipeg doesn’t claim Harkins back, he could be heading to Wilkes-Barre to follow up a 2022-23 where he was one of the very best forwards in the AHL (scoring 50 points in 44 games along the way).
Always noticeable when I coached against him in AHL. Has all the attributes to be a good NHL 4C https://t.co/bwKV2tWTgf— Jack Han (@JhanHky) October 2, 2023
The waiver process exists for a player like Jansen Harkins. He never got the chance to stick in the lineup in Winnipeg, the team that drafted and developed him for the better part of a decade. Now he gets a new chance and fresh look for a new organization and the opportunity for career advancement that didn’t end up working out for him in Winnipeg for one reason or another. How long that chance last remains to be seen, but he’s a player that has earned the look to get seen by new and different coaches and managers based on what he has done in order to perhaps gain a bigger role in the future.