The Pittsburgh Penguins and their front office had all offseason to make the proper moves to solidify core of six defensemen.
As the Penguins wrapped up their preseason, they still had nine NHL caliber defenders on the roster.
It’s easy to pick out the top five and are all but certainly in the lineup; Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Jeff Petry, Marcus Pettersson, and Jan Rutta.
The real battle, however, is for the last spot on the blue line.
Ty Smith, PO Joseph, Chad Ruhwedel, and Mark Friedman have been making their cases heard, with the main focus being made on Smith and Joseph.
The first shoe to drop was Friedman who was placed on waivers and sent to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
But what’s next? The Penguins still have to reach cap compliancy, and quickly.
The deadline for teams to be roster and camp compliant is Monday at 5:00p.m. and the Penguins currently hover around $1 million over the cap limit.
So, who makes the roster? Ty Smith believes he’s done enough to earn a spot.
“Yeah, I think I was pretty good for the most part,” Smith said following the final preseason game where he scored a goal and an assist.
While Smith put on an outstanding performance, head coach Mike Sullivan believed Joseph had his best game of the preseason.
“I thought it was PO’s best game for sure” Sullivan said. “I thought PO got better as the camp went on, and it’s real encouraging to see him have a game like tonight.”
While Joseph was improving all camp, rumors have began flying the Joseph has been getting shopped around by Hextall for a trade.
Both Smith and Joseph have shown to help on the ice, but someone is likely heading to WBS.
Unless Hextall finds a last minute taker for Joseph, Smith is the likelier candidate for the minors.
Smith makes a touch more money against the cap and he wouldn’t have to be sent through the waiver wire.
No matter the decision, the Penguins held onto their hand for too long and are in crunch time to make a vital decision for the lineup.
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