Defenseman Brian Dumoulin, goalie Tristan Jarry and winger Daniel Sprong didn’t skate as the Penguins practiced Sunday morning in Cranberry, but the status of all three players is considered day to day.
Dumoulin is out with an upper-body injury, coach Mike Sullivan said. He was hurt in the second period of Friday night’s preseason finale in Columbus.
Training camp sensation Juuso Riikola took Dumoulin’s place on the top defense pair with Kris Letang at Sunday’s practice.
Riikola’s emergence could lessen the sting of any injury to a defenseman in the team’s top six at this point in the season.
“The depth that we have gives us some latitude in making decisions,” Sullivan said. “There are some circumstances when players are in vulnerable situations and we have to make decisions on whether they play or whether they don’t. I think when we have capable NHL-caliber players that we can put in the lineup, it makes those decisions a little bit easier.”
Jarry was scheduled to play half the game Friday in Columbus, and he completed that assignment, stopping 15-of-20 shots in a 7-6 Penguins loss. He appeared to be favoring a lower-body injury afterwards.
Jarry has been locked in a training camp battle with Casey DeSmith for the back-up goaltender job behind starter Matt Murray.
Sprong has been out since a knee-on-knee collision late in Wednesday’s exhibition game against Buffalo. Sullivan said Sprong skated on his own before practice Sunday.
“He’s back on the ice, which is encouraging,” Sullivan said.
Because none of the injuries is believed to be serious, it’s not like the Penguins are in dire straits headed into their regular-season opener against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
The injuries might make things interesting, however, from a salary cap perspective when the team has to turn in its season-opening roster to the league office by Tuesday afternoon.
Players on the regular injured list don’t count toward the 23-man roster limit, but their paychecks do count toward the $79.5 million salary cap.
The Penguins are projected to have almost $1 million in available cap space with a 23-man roster, but if that number creeps up toward 24 or 25 due to injuries, things get tricky quick. The front office might have to employ the long-term injured list, which gives teams salary relief beyond the $79.5 million limit, and other accounting maneuvers to put together a compliant roster by Tuesday.
“We’ve got to think through just the business side of the game with salary cap and roster sizes and waivers and all of those things,” Sullivan said. “(General manager Jim Rutherford) has a pretty good handle on it all and he advises us on trying to help him make the best decisions for our group.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.