Forwards Jordy Bellerive and Josh Currie and goaltender Emil Larmi were added to the Penguins’ taxi squad Friday morning. Who are they?
The Penguins shuffled their taxi squad Friday morning, sending forwards Frederick Gaudreau and Anthony Angello and goaltender Maxime Legace back to Wilkes-Barre to play with the Baby Penguins. Bellerive, Currie and Larmi have taken their places on the taxi squad.
For those unfamiliar, in simple terms, the taxi squad serves as a sort of COVID backup plan this season for NHL teams. Four to six players are able to practice, participate in team activities and travel with their NHL team in case a team needs a quick replacement. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but you get the gist.
The Penguins likely sent Gaudreau, Angello and Legace down to Wilkes-Barre in order to get them a few games in the AHL after sitting for a while. Bellerive, Currie and Larmi will likely be shuffled out at some point down the line, but there is a chance we could one or more of them skating in a game with the Pens this season.
So, who are they?
Jordy Bellerive – C/LW – Brandon Tanev lite
Bellerive is a 21-year-old AHL sophomore who has had an up-and-down time since his breakout season with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2017-18.
He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017, had an impressive showing at the Penguins’ 2017 Prospect Challenge, scored 92 points (46 goals) in 71 games during his third season of juniors, suffered serious burns to his hands from a bonfire accident, returned from the potentially career-altering injury to score 83 points in 68 games during his final juniors season and debuted with the Baby Penguins last season.
Unaccustomed to playing bottom six hockey in juniors, having served as the captain of the Hurricanes on the top forward line, Bellerive initially struggled with the Baby Penguins. He was scratched and only recorded three goals and 11 assists in his first 33 AHL games. However, in the 26 games leading up to the COVID stoppage, he racked up 16 points (10 goals and six assists).
In three AHL games this season, Bellerive scored two goals.
Bellerive has played a bottom-six role with the Baby Penguins, and while he flashes top-six skill at times, he’ll likely be used as a cheaper bottom-six option for the Penguins given the opportunity. He’s a speedy, tenacious winger with some scoring upside, who sometimes flashes a mean streak.
If the Penguins would like to inject a bit of youth, speed and skill on the fourth line this season, Bellerive could be an option. If given the chance, and given he could keep his temper under control, he could be a low-risk, high-upside energy forward at times this season.
He will likely have minimal impact with the Penguins this season, but he is young. And likely in future plans.
Josh Currie – RW – Josh Currie
What you see is what you get with the 28-year-old captain of the Baby Penguins. A career AHL’er with 21 games of NHL experience, Currie was brought in to provide veteran experience with the Baby Pens after leading the Bakersfield Condors (the Edmonton Oilers’ affiliate) with 24 goals and 41 points last season.
Currie will likely not have an impact with the Penguins, as his deal runs just this season, but he’s a capable AHL forward with some, if not much, NHL experience.
At the end of the day, he’s a solid AHL’er, who could potentially lead the Baby Penguins in scoring.
Emil Larmi – G – Casey DeSmith 2.0
Larmi arrived in North America in 2019 with a lot of hype as a 22-year-old who goaltended HPK (Hameenlinnan Pallokerho) to a Finnish Elite League championship with a .909 save percentage and 1.94 goals against average.
His time in the United States has not exactly gone according to plan, however. Larmi bounced around the AHL, ECHL and even the NHL for a game, struggled to adapt to life in the United States, suffered a confusing medical scare that left him sidelined for a couple of weeks and he was never really given the chance to get into a rhythm.
He spent nine games with the Baby Penguins, compiling a .883 save percentage and 3.55 goals against average. He spent 11 games with the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL, with slightly better success, compiling a .908 save percentage and 3.55 goals against average.
The Penguins sent Larmi back to Finland after their season ended in October, but he could not regain the form he had during the 2018-19 season.
At just six feet tall, weighing 185 pounds, Larmi lacks the prototypical size of NHL goaltenders, but he’s quick, athletic and competitive with a championship pedigree overseas. He still needs to adjust to North American-sized rinks and consistently start games (which means his taxi stay hopefully won’t be too long), but he’s young and full of potential.
In three games with the Baby Penguins this season, Larmi has a .893 save percentage and 3.66 goals against average.
He is a free agent after the season, so his performance this season could determine if he continues his career in Pittsburgh.
What do you think of the Pens’ taxi squad? Do any of them have you interested in the future?