With Pittsburgh losing two defensemen Thursday night’s thrilling overtime victory against Winnipeg, the Pittsburgh Penguins recalled Cameron Gaunce and Steve Oleksy from Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Friday morning.
It was announced that Olli Maatta is shelved for at least six weeks due to surgery on his left hand. I rag on the NHL and their archaic non-stance on actual injury updates, so much respect to Pittsburgh for actually disclosing what the injury was, what it took to fix it and a time table for recovery.
No such luck for Justin Schultz, who was hit along the boards by Dustin Byfuglien. Still don’t know if it’s upper or lower body or what the timetable is.
With Pittsburgh playing again tonight against Columbus, Sunday against Detroit, Tuesday against Carolina, Pittsburgh took two players from Wilkes-Barre.
Out of available players, Gaunce and Oleksy are probably the easiest for Pittsburgh to recall and Wilkes-Barre afford to lose. Derrick Pouliot, David Warsofsky, Tim Erixon and Stuart Percy remain in the AHL. Warsofsky is too valuable to recall, then possibly lose to waivers like he was last year. In the Gaunce / Oleksy recall, you are recalling one player to play with Chad Ruhwedel already in Pittsburgh and one player to sit. It’s probably Oleksy again.
If you haven’t realized yet, 50+ games into the season, Wilkes-Barre’s greatest strength is defense and goaltending. Pittsburgh can recall all the Jake Guentzel’s or Carter Rowney’s they want to, the defense is what gets the AHL Penguins to the best record in the AHL and a 10 point lead on the second place overall team in the league.
Penguins of all levels will be fine, provided no other injuries hit in the coming days. Wilkes-Barre should be seeing some combination of Josh Archibald or Carter Rowney back in town soon with Carl Hagelin and Conor Sheary making progress.
Wilkes-Barre recalled Christan Hilbrich from Wheeling before the defenseman recalls. They haven’t announced a move for another player from Wheeling in light of the recalls from Pittsburgh as of noon Friday.
In other news, the AHL Playoff Primer is out. Wilkes-Barre’s magic number is currently 37. A new twist this season is strength of schedule, listed in purple. The Penguins current strength of schedule is .576, third in the Atlantic Division. That number will change daily.
More later with the 3 p.m. Gameday setup against Albany and the post game recap later tonight.