Penguins pair up Justin Schultz, Marcus Pettersson on second day of camp
On the second day of the Penguins’ training camp in Cranberry on Saturday, the Penguins used a variety of defensive pairings during a scrimmage.
Few of them resembled anything that would be used in a regular season contest in 2019-20.
Massive veteran Erik Gudbranson skated with AHL mainstay Kevin Czuczman while Brian Dumoulin, virtually bolted on to the NHL roster’s top pairing, was with Calen Addison, a promising 19-year-old prospect who has all of three AHL games on his professional resume.
The day prior, Kris Letang, the franchise’s career leader in points by a defenseman, was teamed with David Warsofsky, a journeyman embarking on his third stint with the Penguins.
The only pairing in two days of scrimmages which does appear to be NHL-caliber was the duo of Marcus Pettersson and Justin Schultz.
Any use of them moving forward would be a relatively new experiment for the Penguins as they skated a combined 20 minutes of common five-on-five ice time together last season according to Natural Stat Trick. In contrast, Pettersson’s most common partnership was with Jack Johnson (376:54).
By the time Pettersson arrived in a December trade last season, Schultz was nearly two months into his recovery from an ankle injury, an ailment which ultimately kept him sidelined until mid-February.
Pettersson appears intrigued at the notion of skating with Schultz, one of the team’s top offensive talents on the blue line.
“I feel like we think hockey the same way,” Pettersson said. “Initially, good. We had a couple of minutes on the power play last year. I know it’s not the same thing (as five-on-five play) but you can see how the person moves when you can see him up close, where he likes to be and stuff. But we’ve got a great system, a system that we can lean back on. But initially, it’s good.”
The duo would offer an ideal scenario of pairing a right-handed defenseman such as Schultz with the left-handed Pettersson. It would also potentially provide a steady defensive presence in Pettersson which would allow Schultz to be aggressive offensively.
That doesn’t mean the offensive game is a domain Pettersson is prohibited from.
“We can both do that,” Pettersson said. “I feel like that’s how we both want to play. Not get over-enthusiastic and we both go at the same time, but if we can read off each other like that, I think we can both do that.”
Pettersson and Schultz’s team fell in Saturday’s scrimmage, 2-1. The winning team got goals from Jon Lizotte, a defenseman in camp on an AHL contract, and forward Jake Lucchini, an undrafted free agent signing. Veteran forward Dominik Simon scored the lone goal for the losing squad.
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .