Pens claim a former Flyers defenseman off waivers, what does that mean?

Pittsburgh Penguins Fans arrive for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins Fans arrive for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Flyers defenseman Mark Friedman off waivers, the team announced Wednesday morning.

The 25-year-old right-handed defenseman has played a majority of his career with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, but he has seen at least a game of NHL action with the Flyers in each of the past three seasons, including four games this season.

New Penguins GM Ron Hextall drafted Friedman in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft, so it’s not particularly surprising that he’s willing to take a chance on a player who he knows well. Friedman hasn’t played particularly well at the NHL level (one point in 11 games with a -3 rating and poor underlying advanced numbers), but he hasn’t really been given much of a chance.

While Friedman won’t slot into the Penguins’ top four this season, or even play much this season, he is the first step that Hextall has made in shaping the team with the players he wants around.

With Chad Ruhwedel and Juuso Riikola serving as holdovers from the Jim Rutherford era, their job security could be in jeopardy moving forward. As a cheap option, making just $750K this season, he could be someone who not only provides solid depth but earns third-pairing minutes.

A fast, aggressive yet undersized skater at just 5’11”, Friedman does possess good strength for his size. He played in all situations for the Phantoms. With three goals and fifteen assists for the Phantoms in 45 games last season, he’s shown a solid puck-moving ability.

Some within the Flyers’ organization felt that Friedman had earned more playtime, and he earned strong praise from his former coach and GM with the Flyers, provided by a Flyers’ press release.

"Friedman has earned solid reviews for his NHL performance from head coach Alain Vigneault and general manager Chuck Fletcher. He has fared better under the old-fashioned “eye test” and via video isolation of his individual play than by his small sample size of stats based on common analytics measures with him on the ice"

Friedman will make his debut with the Penguins Thursday night against the Washington Capitals, a quick turnaround after being claimed by the Pens Wednesday morning.

With the Penguins’ defensive injury struggles this season, Brian Dumoulin and Juuso Riikola still out of the lineup, and Kris Letang seemingly picking up an injury late against the Capitals on Tuesday, Friedman should earn about 12-13 minutes of ice time against the Caps in a bottom-pairing role.

Ruhwedel, who has performed admirably with the Penguins, and Riikola, who was re-signed in the offseason by Rutherford, will compete with Friedman for ice-time. Riikola especially should question what the move means for his future.

At the end of the day, you can never have enough depth defensively, and the Penguins potentially have someone who could make an impact as a bottom-pairing defender.

Next. Check out the recap of the Penguins' 3-2 win over the Capitals Tuesday night!. dark

Friedman and the Penguins hit the ice against the Capitals on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. AT&T SportsNet will provide local coverage while ESPN+ provides wider coverage for a fee.