And then there were 32.
The Penguins have cut and waived 21 players from the original training camp roster, but this won’t be the last time we see some of them.
There are a few early cuts, including some members of Pensburgh’s 2023 Top 25 Under 25 list, to keep an eye on this season they begin work in the minors.
- First-round pick center Brayden Yager is heading to play with the Moose Jaw Warriors. His 2023-24 season against WHL competition could play a major role in the likelihood of his making the roster next season, so we’ll be keeping an eye on Saskatchewan this season to see how the Penguins’ most highly-rated prospect does in his first season of pro development.
- Defender Isaac Belliveau is heading into his first pro season in the AHL. He’ll be an interesting watch in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton mostly because he is, at this point, largely unproven despite a hugely successful major junior league career that included driving plays for Alexis Lafreniére in 2020 and becoming one of the highest-scoring defensemen in the QMJHL last season.
- Goaltender Joel Blomqvist will be battling for a role in a crowded AHL crease this season. The highly-anticipated rookie would likely have to beat out two experienced pros in Calder Cup champion Garret Sparks and (likely) former NHL backup Magnus Hellberg for an AHL position, so that positional fight will be one to watch in order to track who is going to get called up in case of injury in the net.
- Defenseman Jack St. Ivany, a former Philadelphia Flyers prospect who has never yet cracked into the NHL, established himself as a regular bottom-pairing presence with the WBS Penguins last season— but that was on a team that finished the campaign with the fourth-lowest win total in the AHL. And while the WBS Pens look to improve this fall, St. Ivany is heading into the final year of his contract. It’ll be worth watching if he is able to hold onto his spot in the WBS depth chart. If not, it could be the end of this 2018 fourth-round pick’s Penguins career.
- Defenseman Ty Smith is still a Penguin— albeit, a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton one— after clearing waivers. The Penguins’ decision to risk losing him for nothing on the very first day he was waiver-eligible doesn’t seem like a good sign for his shots at making it back on the roster. But then, we know from last season just how quickly defensive injuries can send the Pens dipping into the AHL (Smith would have gotten more of an opportunity during the Penguins’ injury glut on the blue line last season had he not been sidelined with a facial fracture at the time.)
None of these players will be skating in Pittsburgh in October, but they’ll be interesting to keep an eye on as the hockey seasons begin in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Moose Jaw.