On the surface, the Pittsburgh Penguins made a somewhat interestingly timed moved today in waiving defender Mark Friedman.
Friedman has cleared waivers twice this season, and since it is after the NHL trade deadline, he is ineligible to play for any other NHL team this regular season or playoffs. Therefore, unless a team wanted to pick him up with next season in mind, he will probably clear a third time.
The move to waive Friedman was necessary to trim a little bit more off the Penguins salary cap, space they would need in order to activate Marcus Pettersson from the long-term injured reserve. Pettersson practiced today in a spot in the lineup where it looks like that could be the plan.
Here are the #LetsGoPens lines and D-pairs:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) April 12, 2023
Following practice, coach Mike Sullivan declared Pettersson a game time decision for tomorrow. However, Sullivan also allowed that the result of the Islanders game would “probably” affect the Pens’ lineup tomorrow. As in, if New York wins or loses in overtime/shootout tonight against Montreal and Pittsburgh is eliminated from the playoffs, the Pens might not play Pettersson in what would be a meaningless game. Presumably at that point, the Pens would use their same defensive lineup from recent games, which from the above would mean Dmitry Kulikov playing instead of Pettersson.
Nick Bonino, who also is on LTIR, is still not cleared to return from his lacerated kidney and will not be playing in the regular season finale. Drew O’Connor practiced and is also officially a game time decision, as he was last night when he did not play against Chicago. If O’Connor can’t play tomorrow, Pittsburgh will be able to use Alex Nylander to fill his spot, as he has for the previous two games.
The wrinkle to waive Friedman opens the door for Pettersson to come back, but at this point Pittsburgh has to sit back and hope there is a reason to make that move.