What To Make Of The Cuts So Far
In their second round of cuts, the Pittsburgh Penguins have sent seven players packing. These include forwards Nick Johnson, Colin McDonald, Ryan Craig, and Eric Tangradi. Defensemen Scott Harrington and goaltenders Brad Theisen and Scott Munroe were also reassigned. Harrington was sent back to his junior club in London after a fantastic showing at camp. His game was everything the Pens have expected and more.
The surprising move was that Eric Tangradi did not make it through camp, unlike last season. It appears that the Pens would like him to spend as much time as possible fine tuning his game in the AHL. After his games last season, we saw Tangradi excel in front of the net on the Power Play and along the boards, however, his passing and vision were not what the Penguins considered efficient. Tangradi is showing improvement in his speed this season and for a large bodied player is relatively quick.
The key part of this move is that many are trying to correlate Tangradi’s cut with being trade bait, but I will not make that correlation and will firmly dispute that. In the upcoming season Tangradi will more than likely be the first call up if any forward is to go down. Consider also that after this season top wingers Chris Kunitz and James Neal will need new contracts and if either is able to sign for what the penguins find suitable, it will be very important that Tangradi sticks around. He might not be ready today, or by season’s end, but Tangradi is going to play an integral part in this team’s future and the Penguins have big plans for the big forward.
Gritty forwards Nick Johnson and Ryan Craig were sent back down in an unsurprising move. Both players have shown excellent grit in their penalty killing and showed improvement on offense, but on a team as deep as the Penguins, there just wasn’t enough room. This also applies to third and fourth goaltenders Theisen and Munroe, who played well, but will not be replacing the tandem of Fleury and Johnson.
One player I discussed in the last update was first round pick Joe Morrow. Joe continues to impress in every facet of the game. In his preseason so far he has piled up an impressive amount of points. He looks to have a great comfort level with Kris Letang and if Brooks Orpik is going to need time off to recover from his hernia surgery, many think that Joe Morrow will be given a 10 game junior try out. This news comes as a shock to this writer, considering that Joe Morrow was supposed to be a three year project. Taken later in the first round, many thought that all of the defensemen before him were much more prepared, but from what we have seen, Joe is ready right now. In his games and practice so far we have seen quick burst from the offensive zone, great vision and passing, and a great shot from the point. All of these show that he is not just ready for the NHL, but will fit perfectly in the Penguins defensive core. While the try out is not likely, considering the depth of the penguins defense, it should not be shocking to see Morrow on the ice against the Canucks in game 1.
One more update on the Penguins camp will be coming right before the start of the season, as well as my regular season preview. Thanks for the read and remember the season is to start in just one week, so continue to show your support by checking in and leaving comments.