Is it really this bad?
In the wake of three new additions to the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ lengthy list of injured forwards, the team recalled nominal hockey player Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond from its AHL affiliate Wednesday morning.
This news doesn’t bode well for James Neal‘s chances of playing this evening against the Capitals. Neal was deemed “day-to-day” by Penguins coach Dan Bylsma on Tuesday after the high-scoring winger missed his second straight day of practice.
Recent waiver pickup Taylor Pyatt took Neal’s place on the second line for Tuesday’s workout, which should tell you all you need to know about the Penguins’ current depth at forward. Call-up Nick Drazenovic, he of 11 career NHL games, was slotted as the third-line center, while defensemen-by-trade Simon Despres and Derek Engellend skated alongside rookie Zach Sill on the fourth line.
Brian Gibbons and Joe Vitale were both placed on the injured reserve earlier this week, taking the Penguins’ situation at forward from inconvenient to critical. Gibbons, who had played the past few games at right wing on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, was replaced by peep-show star Brandon Sutter on Tuesday.
Since the Penguins would probably prefer to not have two blueliners skating out of position against Washington, it made sense that another AHL transaction would be coming. Still, it wasn’t expected that Letourneau-Leblond might make the cross-state drive from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The 28-year-old known as “PL3″ for simplicity has skated in 40 NHL regular-season games, recording three assists and 101 penalty minutes. If that line doesn’t reveal what type of player he is, his 49 points and 1,198 PIM over eight AHL seasons should do the trick.
Letourneau-Leblond could easily find himself in the Consol Energy Center press box tonight if Neal is able to dress, but his mere presence in Pittsburgh speaks to the Penguins’ desperate need for warm bodies.