08:00 ET

Penguins: Defense is Set

Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins have officially set their opening night roster, and some of the results on who made it through are a little bit surprising, especially on the back end.

After having all off-season to get their roster down to a solid six or seven defensemen, the team elected to go with seven on the current roster. They sent down the final two, Ty Smith and Mark Friedman, on Monday.

The Penguins seven defensemen on the opening night roster are Brian Dumoulin, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Kris Letang, Jeff Petry, Marcus Pettersson, Chad Ruhwedel, and Jan Rutta. The final spots on the roster were between Ty Smith, Joesph, Ruhwedel, and Mark Friedman. Friedman was placed on waivers on Saturday. 

The Penguins were also cutting it close on cap space, so they opted to send down Ty Smith instead of Pierre-Olivier Joseph. In my honest opinion, Smith played better than Joseph throughout training camp, but Smith had to be sent down due to cap space. After recording a goal and an assist in the final preseason game against Buffalo, Smith said, “Yeah, I think I was pretty good for the most part.” 

As much as Ty Smith had a solid game, Mike Sullivan was especially pleased with how Joseph played in the 7-1 win. “I thought it was PO’s best game for sure,” Sullivan said. “I thought PO got better as the camp went on, and it’s really encouraging to see him have a game like tonight.” Even though Joseph seemed to improve through all games he played, GM Ron Hextall was rumored to have offered him to all 31 other NHL teams, per Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli. No teams were interested in acquiring the young player’s services. 

As much as I think both players deserved spots on the roster, the Penguins only had room for one on the team, especially when the team only had $1M left in cap space. Smith was the likeliest player to be sent down, mainly due to his cap hit, so it isn’t a total surprise. Plus, Smith is not waiver-eligible, so that makes this move make even more sense. 

Smith has spent two seasons in the NHL so far, both with the New Jersey Devils, recording seven goals, 36 assists, and 43 points in 114 career games. In 2020-21, he was named to the NHL’s ”All-Rookie Team” after leading all rookie defensemen in assists with 21, points with 23, and power-play points with 7 in that season. He was acquired on July 16th in exchange for defenseman John Marino.

Joseph has played in 20 career NHL games, registering a goal and five points. He played in four games last season, recording two penalty minutes. He played in 16 games in the 2020-21 season, recording a goal and four assists for five points.

With this move officially made, it is interesting to see if the Penguins either keep Joseph in the lineup or try to move him when the opening night roster freeze is done and Smith quickly gets called back up. 

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
  2. The Final Countdown
  3. Here Come the Playoffs
  4. Home Stretch
  5. Kevy Cooks

Nik Shermeto

PT ‘23 | 🇺🇸/🇨🇦 | Penguins writer for Inside The Rink | Thoughts are my own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2023 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Andrew Strathmann

The Scouting Report: Andrew Strathmann from Beach Park, Illinois, born on February 27th, 2005, is a prospect eligible for the 2023 NHL entry draft in Nashville. While he isn’t the biggest defenseman on the ice, he has the most heart, listed at 5’11” and 190 pounds, Andrew Strathmann has used his size effectively for his […]

Read More

Stars Should Re-Sign Max Domi

The Dallas Stars’ magical playoff run ended on May 29th. The Stars ran out of gas and came out flat against the Vegas Golden Knights in a win-or-go-home Game 6 in front of a home crowd at the American Airlines Center. But the Stars’ offseason is just getting started. Let’s start with the Stars center […]

Read More

2023 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Martin Misiak

The Scouting Report: Martin Misiak from Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, born on September 30th, 2004, is an NHL draft-eligible prospect for the 2023 NHL entry draft in Nashville. The big Slovakian center came to the USA after spending 29 games with HC Nove Zamky in the Slovakia league. The Youngstown Phantoms certainly felt Misiak’s presence as […]

Read More