Under the Cap?
The Pittsburgh Penguins have made some very interesting moves on deadline day and not all of them should be taken at face value.
Derrick Pouliot sent back to Portland Winterhawks – It is not a surprising move in the least, even I predicted this one to come to fruition. Pouliot was simply not ready for the NHL and needed to work on his game at a level in which he was comfortable. This is the best move for his growth as a player and should not spark any controversy about his future with the Penguins.
Beau Bennett sent to Wheeling Nailers – This is nothing more than a cap circumventing move for the Penguins and it likely means that Chuck Kobasew has successfully earned a spot on the Penguins roster. Bennett will drive to Wheeling and then drive back after reporting, just enough time for Shero to make the proper cap compliant roster moves.
Simon Despres sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Pens – This was a shocking move for me. If the Penguins wanted to keep Despres around and just wanted to circumvent the cap they could have simply gone with the same plan as Beau Bennett, but instead they opted him to the AHL.
This most certainly means he will not be on the roster opening night and that the Penguins were not happy with his growth or motivation. If anything, this is a move to spark the young blueliner. If successful, Despres will rebound nicely in the AHL and get into game shape. I still see Despres as a top six defender on the Penguins and expect him to return by mid to late November.
Letang and Vokoun to IR – There is almost no updates on either player thus far other than Letang’s injury not being overly serious. He will most likely miss the home opener on Thursday and the following few games. Updates will be provided once the Penguins make an official announcement.
Vokoun is out indefinitely after successful surgery on a number of blood clots. Although reports out there speak of the severity nothing has been confirmed by the Penguins organization. Jeff Zatkoff is the back up as of now.
Olli Maatta Stays Put – After an incredibly successful preseason showcase, Olli Maatta might have earned himself a 10 game tryout with the Pens. Kris Letang has moved to IR and Orpik is still day to day, leaving a spot open in the top six. I would not be shocked to see Maatta play with Scuderi or Martin on Thursday to prove his worth.
Chris Conner, Matt D’Agostini, and Chuck Kobasew – Kobasew might have earned a contract with the Pens after his preseason performance. The veteran was on a professional try out and has yet to receive a contract, but the moves this afternoon indicate cap clearance for that to happen. Conner and D’Agostini were not great in preseason, but with the void in the bottom six it is not surprising that they will remain on the roster.
Remaining Cap Space – Once Tomas Vokoun has made up his mind on where he sees himself this season, the Pens can clear enough cap space to recall the like of Despres and even sign a new backup goaltender if needed.
According to reports the Kobasew camp and GM Shero are still far apart in negotiations and it is not likely he signs this week. He could tag along with the team for a few weeks/months, similiar to what Mark Eaton did last season, before signing or moving on.