The Pittsburgh Penguins have officially opened up training camp ahead of the 2022-23 season.
With hockey season right around the corner, there are still a few positions in the Penguins lineup being fought over.
The battle for the sixth and final spot on defense is a broad four-horse race, but there should be two obvious front-runners.
Mark Friedman, Chad Ruhwedel, Ty Smith, and PO Joseph are all in the running, but it’s the latter two that deserve the biggest look.
While Friedman and Ruhwedel have the veteran presence in the organization, Smith and Joseph will give the Penguins a better chance of winning night after night.
The battle between Smith and Joseph has been getting talked about since Smith’s arrival in July, but the Penguins are in a great position with both of them.
No matter who comes out of camp as the winner of the roster spot, both Smith and Joseph can be beneficial.
Smith is joining the Penguins as a reclamation project of sorts, but has proven before that he can produce at a high level in the NHL.
In 48 games during his rookie season, Smith put up 23 points on a rather disappointing New Jersey Devils squad.
Those 23 points led the Devils’ defense in points, but took a step back in his sophomore season.
The Devils were decidedly worse in 2021-22, but the Penguins organization are hoping to have a resurgence in Smith with new surroundings.
For Joseph, it’s a case of now or never; he has to make and be a consistent piece of an NHL roster.
Joseph has proven he is better than the ranks of the AHL and can perform at the highest level of the game, it’s up to the Penguins coaching staff to recognize that.
With the signing of a new contract in July, the organization has shown that they want to see what Joseph can do.
Joseph is ready to answer the call on the blue line, but has to beat out Smith in camp.
The overall bonus of carrying both Smith and Joseph and playing one of them, is that if the initial decision flat lines, you have the other option to jump to.
The battle between Smith and Joseph is important to watch and no matter the outcome the Penguins will come out as winners.
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