Pittsburgh Penguins general manger Ray Shero announced several roster moves yesterday that satisfy the NHL's mandate for a twenty-three man squad and has the team under the $64.3 salary cap. In true Shero fashion, some of the moves are clever and, well, downright sneaking.
The nitty-gritty: defenseman Simon Despres and forward Andrew Ebbett to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Derrick Pouliot back to the WHL's Portland Winterhawks, Beau Bennett to the ECHL, and Harrison Ruopp recalled back to the Penguins.
First off, Beau Bennett will not play a game this season with the Wheeling Nailers. Twitter exploded and Pens fans just about had a collective stroke when the demotion was publicized twenty hours ago. Bennett's move down is stickily a salary cap thing. A very complicated and very shrewd way to tiptoe around Monday's deadline.
Bennett will be called up before the morning skate Thursday when the Pens open the season against the New Jersey Devils. To clear cap space for him (and get the team under) the Pens have placed goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) and defenseman Kris Letang (lower body injury) on IR. Their salaries will not count against the cap until they come back. Harrison Ruopp will likely be the guy Beau will swap out with.
Why did Shero have to go through all this trouble? The world may ever know . . .
But make it easy on yourself and blame Gary Bettman. Maybe, Roger Goodell.
Another interesting move made was keeping rookie defenseman Olli Maatta with the big club. Obliviously, with Letang on injured reserve the Pens needed another blueliner around, but few thought Maatta would be it. He had a subpar preseason and looked like a player that needed more grooming. But perhaps another young defenseman's troubles overridden Maatta's.
Simon Despres took a major step back the last three weeks. The demotion may serve as a reminder that nothing lasts up in the big leagues and/or a incentive to get back to the form he showed last year. Whatever the case, Maatta benefits.
Here are the projected lines for Thursday's game:
Chris Kunitz- Sidney Crosby- Pascal Dupuis
James Neal – Evgeni Malkin – Jussi Jokinen
Beau Bennett – Brandon Sutter – Matt D-Agostini
Tanner Glass- Craig Adams – Dustin Jeffrey
Paul Martin – Brooks Orpik
Matt Niskanen – Rob Scuderi
Robert Bortuzzo – Deryk Engelland
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