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Penguins notebook: Roster spots scarce after cuts

| Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 5:06 p.m.

The writing is on the wall for about 22 Penguins players remaining in training camp.

With about two weeks left, one spot — likely at forward — is for the taking.

The Penguins re-assigned 11 players on Tuesday, trimming a camp roster to 44 — including 21 players on contracts that will require them to clear waivers for an AHL assignment.

Twelve of those 21 players are forwards, not including winger Beau Bennett, whom management views as a lock to make the regular-season opening roster. Bennett is slotted to play with center Evgeni Malkin and right winger James Neal on the second line.

Like Bennett, defenseman Simon Despres is working on an entry-level contract. However, that may work against him because the Penguins could get under the NHL's $64.3 million salary cap by placing Despres in the AHL to start the season.

Despres is one of eight defensemen that coaches view as NHL ready, but he is the only one that doesn't have to clear waivers for an AHL demotion.

Coach Dan Bylsma does not favor carrying eight defensemen, as the Penguins did most of last season, because he said there is not enough playing or practice time for two extra players on the back end.

Regular-season rosters must be set Sept. 30. Clubs can carry no more than 23 players.

So far, so good

Two forwards that arrived at camp on tryout contracts remained in the Penguins' plans as of Tuesday.

Veteran right winger Chuck Kobasew, on a professional tryout deal, was not among the players reassigned. He scored twice in an exhibition game at Columbus on Sunday, and Bylsma said Monday that Kobasew had earned “another game” during camp.

Kobasew, 31, has scored 108 goals in 568 NHL games.

Forward Jean-Sebastien Dea was among the 11 players reassigned, but he was signed to an entry-level (three years) contract. Dea, 19, arrived at camp on an amateur tryout deal after leading Penguins' prospects with three points in as many games at a rookie tournament in London, Ontario, earlier this month.

Back at it

Center Joe Vitale and right winger Matt D'Agostini returned to practice sessions Tuesday.

Vitale did not participate in a session Monday after he was roughed up during a fight with Columbus' James Wisniewski on Sunday. D'Agostini did not play Monday against Detroit at Consol Energy Center because of the birth of his son, Lucca.

Around the boards

The Penguins reported that about 12,300 fans — approximately 70 percent of tickets sold — attended the exhibition game Monday night. The game took place at the same time the Pirates played at PNC Park and began about 90 minutes before the Steelers played at Cincinnati.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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