Pittsburgh Penguins Return Sundqvist to Sweden, Harrington to WBS


The Pittsburgh Penguins continued to finalize their opening night roster this week, returning highly touted rookie Oskar Sundqvist to Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League.

Young defenseman Scott Harrington was sent down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, while Andrew Ebbett, Zach Sill, and Taylor Chorney were assigned to the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers.

Kasperi Kapanen, who seems the most likely of all the young Penguins to stick with the team this season, has returned to Finland to visit family while still remaining on the Penguins’ roster. With the team starting their season tomorrow night, it remains to be seen whether or not Kapanen will be returning to join the Penguins or whether he will stay put and play in Finland this season.

As the Penguins continue to get roster regulars back from injury, it is no surprise that players like Ebbett, Sill, and Chorney have been pushed out of the starting lineup. It is also possible, however, that the three could have been assigned to Wheeling for cap purposes, as the Penguins have done in the past, and could be recalled later this week.

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The reasoning behind the re-assignment of Sundqvist is less clear, though. The young centre made quite an impression during training camp, prompting the Pens’ coaching staff to indicate Sundqvist had a very real chance of starting the year in Pittsburgh. Head coach Mike Johnston’s recent decision to start Evgeni Malkin as a winger on one of the first two lines seemed to further solidify Sundqvist’s chances, as Malkin‘s move to the wing would require Brandon Sutter to move up in the lineup, filling the void on the second line. Marcel Goc would similarly need to move up to fill the empty centreman spot on the third line.

Sundqvist seemed like a natural fit to anchor the team’s fourth line in such a situation, but now it seems the promising youngster won’t get that chance just yet. It is not immediately clear who will slot in on the fourth line with Sundqvist no longer on the roster, though Ebbett has a good chance to get the call up from Wheeling to do so after also putting in a strong performance during camp.

Harrington’s re-assignment also comes as somewhat of a surprise, after the Pens’ coaching staff spoke very highly of him and his NHL-ready ability earlier this week. The impending return of Olli Maatta, who seems to be nearly fully recovered from his shoulder surgery this summer, simply pushed Harrington out of the lineup – as the team will now suit up a starting six consisting of Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, Paul Martin, Simon Despres, Rob Scuderi and Maatta.

Harrington is arguably more deserving of a spot than Scuderi, who is coming off a season that allowed his skill to be seriously questioned at this point in his career, but it seems the veteran defender will get one more chance to prove himself in the NHL ranks.