The Pittsburgh Penguins are just two exhibition games away from the start of the 2022-23 regular season.
As the tune up games near their close, there is still a few things to keep an eye on as the Penguins roster is almost set.
With the roster down to 28 players, the Penguins travel to Detroit to take on the Red Wings, and there is a few certain aspect of the game to keep an eye on.
Last Chance for Young Forwards
As the Penguins continue to trim their roster, a couple of young forwards have survived every list of cuts.
Sam Poulin and Radim Zohorna have had impressive training camps and have been putting up real fights to possibly crack the NHL roster.
Poulin is back with the team after missing the previous preseason game with a personal matter.
Through both rookie and professional training camp, Poulin has quickly climbed his way back near the top of the organization’s prospect pipeline.
Poulin is being given another opportunity to show his worth and he has a great chance to make the NHL lineup.
Whether it’s on opening night or as a midseason call-up, fans are likely going to see the Poulin’s NHL debut during the 2022-23 season.
For Zohorna, things are a bit more interesting; while he has survived every cut so far, the Penguins did place him on waivers.
Still listed on the training camp roster and on the roster in Detroit, Zohorna has received praises from head coach Mike Sullivan.
“I think Z has played extremely well,” Sullivan said. “That’s one of the reasons why he continues to play here.”
Just because Zohorna was placed on waivers, doesn’t mean he is being cut from the NHL roster or sent to the minors.
Zohorna will play in Detroit, and like Poulin, is being given another opportunity to show how important he can be to the team.
There is a real fight for a roster spot in the Penguins lineup, and Poulin and Zohorna are becoming real options.
Defense Set for Season?
At the beginning of training camp, there was another roster spot battle being had on the blue line.
It looks as if the Penguins defensive core is all but set heading into the penultimate preseason game.
The team has deployed the same six defenders in a previous exhibition game and multiple practices, and that will likely be the starting six come regular season.
PO Joseph and Ty Smith were the notable names fighting for the last spot on the defense, and it looks like Smith has been given the advantage.
When asked about the pairing of Smith and Jan Rutta, Sullivan said he hopes there’s something there.
“We’re hoping they can develop a little bit of chemistry,” Sullivan said later calling them a pair that can be “complimentary.”
While Joseph hasn’t disappointed, sometimes roster decisions just have to come down to who has played better during the chances they’ve been given.
“We’re trying to do our very best to field the best team,” Sullivan said.
While Smith’s spot still isn’t 100% certain, the game in Detroit is another time to see where the Penguins defense will stand come the start of the regular season.
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