Archive

ShareThis Page
Penguins could augment free agency with AHL bubble players | TribLIVE.com
Penguins/NHL

Penguins could augment free agency with AHL bubble players

gtrweekinpics20032718
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Chad Ruhwedel fights for the puck with the Flyers' Jakub Voracek in the first period Sunday, March 25, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
gtrpenslightning09112617
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Chad Ruhwedel knocks the Lightning' Nikita Kucherov off the puck in the second period Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
gtrpensjets15102717
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Greg McKegg looks for the rebound against the Jets in the third period Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 at PPG Arena.

Each July 1 for the last three years, the Penguins have supplemented their free-agent harvest with a slew of players on the AHL-NHL bubble.

They’ll sign for around the league minimum on the NHL portion of two-way deals and find their names in zero headlines.

By the end of the season, though, they probably will find their way into somewhat significant roles in the Penguins lineup.

In 2015, July 1 addition Kevin Porter ended up with his name on the Stanley Cup. Chad Ruhwedel, a 2016 signee, played 34 NHL games that season and worked his way into the top six by the time the playoffs rolled around last year. Greg McKegg, a 2017 acquisition, started the season as the everyday fourth-line center and ended up playing 26 games for the Penguins.

The trend is likely to continue Sunday when this year’s free-agent signing period begins.

On defense, the Penguins have a couple of bubble players capable of playing NHL minutes. The team thinks highly of newly signed Finnish defenseman Juuso Riikola. Kevin Czuczman and Chris Summers have some NHL experience.

Beyond that, reinforcements will likely be required. Andrey Pedan and Lukas Bengtsson left Wilkes-Barre for Europe. Frankie Corrado, still on the mend from a season-ending injury in February, will be an unrestricted free agent, as will Jarred Tinordi and Zach Trotman.

Assistant general manager Bill Guerin said he has interest in keeping players such as Tinordi and Trotman in the fold.

“We feel that they fit what we’re trying to do,” Guerin said. “Those guys are extremely important to us. We’re looking to bring guys back and add.”

Up front, Carter Rowney and Josh Jooris, right-handed centers who played fairly significant roles last season, are likely to depart as unrestricted free agents.

The Penguins might want to try to replace them in the free-agent market.

Then again, they might not.

“We have to look at improving the team any way we can, but at center, we’ve got Teddy Blueger, we’ve got J.S. Dea. We’ve got guys that have given us games before,” Guerin said. “We’ve got younger guys coming in like Linus Olund. Sam Lafferty is signed now. We just have to surround them with some veteran players so they can develop at the right pace.”

The Penguins will probably also be in the market for a bubble winger or two, especially if they’re unable to snag a scoring winger for their bottom six at a reasonable price at the NHL level. Instead, they could add a crop of players on two-way deals who at least can make prospects Daniel Sprong, Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon earn their spots in the lineup.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.