Penguins considering making roster changes for postseason
Due to dissatisfaction with the recent play of forwards Craig Adams and Beau Bennett, one or more younger players in the Penguins organization could be given an opportunity to produce come playoff time, a team source told Trib Total Media.
Those potentially being given a chance include: Andrew Ebbett, who is with the team because of injuries to Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist; Kasperi Kapanen; Jayson Megna; Bryan Rust; Oskar Sundqvist; and Scott Wilson.
The Penguins hockey operations staff is in the process of determining who would be given an opportunity first, the source said.
Such a decision could depend on who's scoring or how that player addresses an NHL-level need.
Rosters expand in the NHL playoffs, and there is no salary cap. That means the Penguins would have no financial worries, although multiple players could be watching from the press box.
The organization remains confident in Derrick Pouliot, who is expected to begin the playoffs as a top-six defenseman, the source said. The only reason he currently is with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League is to keep the Penguins cap-compliant.
When the Penguins played the Dallas Stars on Thursday, they used a fourth line that included Adams, Bennett and Maxim Lapierre. Those three have combined for four goals in 122 games and none over their past 26.
The fourth line the Stars countered with — Ryan Garbutt, Vernon Fiddler and Colton Sceviour — has 26 goals. The New York Islanders' fourth line of Cal Clutterback, Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas has scored 21 goals.
Bennett was guilty of an own-goal against Dallas, but the source said that's not the reason management has soured on his play. It's more that he hasn't caught on at the NHL level or played up to his capabilities, the source said.
Kapanen and Sundqvist may provide the most intrigue. Kapanen, the Penguins' first-round draft pick last June, had 11 goals and 21 points in 41 games with KalPa of the Finnish Elite League this season. KalPa began its quarterfinal-round playoff series Friday.
Sundqvist was one of the Penguins' final — and toughest — cuts after the preseason. He's a two-way center with size and produced nine goals and 19 points with Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League. Skelleftea is in the second round of its postseason.
Due to IIHF rules, neither would be available until after their international postseasons conclude.
Megna, Rust and Wilson saw time with the Penguins this season. Megna hasn't played with them since Dec. 31, Rust since Jan. 13. Megna is second on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's goal-scoring list with 19. Ebbett is third with 15, Wilson fourth with 14 and Rust tied for fifth with 13.
Rust has not played since Feb. 21 because of a lower-body injury. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's leading scorer, Conor Sheary (20 goals), has an AHL contract and is not believed to be a candidate for a promotion.