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Penguins notebook: Defenseman Zach Trotman could have impact

Jonathan Bombulie
| Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, 8:06 p.m.
Penguins defenseman Zach Trotman will be the seventh defenseman while Matt Hunwick is out.
Penguins defenseman Zach Trotman will be the seventh defenseman while Matt Hunwick is out.

SUNRISE, Fla. — Over the last four months, the Penguins have built up an overflowing stockpile of depth defensemen.

In July, they added Zach Trotman, Chris Summers, Jared Tinordi and Kevin Czuczman in free agency. Earlier this month, they traded for Andrey Pedan. They already had Lukas Bengtsson and Frankie Corrado, among others, in the fold.

Of the deep group of call-up hopefuls, Trotman, who was promoted from Wilkes-Barre on Thursday to fill in as seventh defenseman while Matt Hunwick is out with a concussion, might have the greatest potential to make an immediate impact.

A simple look at the back of his hockey card shows why. At 6-foot-3, 227 pounds, he's big, right-handed and proficient with the puck on his stick.

“My game, when I'm playing well, I'm moving pucks and getting pucks out and getting shots through. I think those are the two staples of my game,” Trotman said. “Anytime I can raise that physical element, it's an added bonus. It's something I've focused on, too. But the puck moving, getting the puck to the forwards here is a really big thing. It's definitely a key for me.”

Boston's seventh-round pick out of Lake Superior State in 2010, the 27-year-old Trotman turned pro in 2012 when the Bruins had a plethora of prospects on the blue line, ranging from Torey Krug and Kevan Miller to Matt Bartkowski and David Warsofsky. He had to battle just to get a jersey on game night when he was with Providence of the AHL.

“You couldn't take a practice off. You couldn't make a mistake. Nothing,” Trotman said. “It was good to learn that and get taught how to come to the rink every day focused and stay mentally into it.”

Before last season, Trotman hit free agency and tried his luck with the Los Angeles Kings organization. In his ninth AHL game of the season, he hurt his shoulder in a fight and needed surgery.

The injury knocked him off the NHL radar for a while. With the Penguins, he's in the process of rebuilding his profile.

“Just an exciting place to play, and they've obviously got something going on with the winning recipe,” Trotman said. “I've got to see what that's all about.”

Lineup decisions

The Penguins went with the same forward lineup Friday night that they've used for the past five games, which made Scott Wilson and Josh Archibald healthy scratches.

When deciding whether the time is right to work fresh legs into the lineup, especially during a set of games on back-to-back days, Sullivan said his process remains the same.

“We have lineup discussions after every game before the next game,” he said. “The question I always ask the coaching staff is, ‘Which lineup gives us the best chance to win?' That's where we start, then we have some discussion. We'll do the same thing.”

Goalie decision

Even though Matt Murray started Friday against Florida, that doesn't necessarily mean Antti Niemi, who has an .809 save percentage in two starts this season, will get the nod Saturday against Tampa Bay.

“We consider all options,” Sullivan said.

Odds and ends

Two weeks into the NHL season, the public is off the Penguins bandwagon.

According to, the Penguins opened the season as Stanley Cup co-favorites with Edmonton with 8-1 odds.

After a 4-2-1 start, the Penguins dropped to third on the list, tied at 12-1 with Edmonton and Chicago. A hot start has Toronto (6-1-0) the favorite at 8-1 and Tampa Bay (6-1-1) right behind at 9-1.

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

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