Penguins Hockey Is Finally Back! Well, sort of…


Penguins Hockey Is Finally Back!

Well, regular season hockey is still two weeks away with the Pittsburgh Penguins season opener October 10 at home against the Chicago Blackhawks. However, preseason hockey started this past weekend, as we inch closer towards the regular season.

The Penguins in a split squad, took on the Columbus Blue Jackets in a home-and-home series this past Sunday. The Penguins at home won 3-2 in a shootout with goals coming from Alexander Nylander, and Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Rookie and former first-round pick Brayden Yager demonstrated his talents early as he had a nice goal in the shootout.

Yager Already Getting Veteran Mentorship

Yager was nervous for his NHL Debut but new teammate and veteran linemate Matt Nieto helped calm Yager down. Nieto signed a two-year $900,000 dollar contract with the Penguins on July 1. Nieto is coming off of a 24 point season.

Yager will not start the season for Pittsburgh, however, it is promising to see he is already contributing on the offensive end.

Nylander Continues To Fight For Roster Spot

The Penguins traded for Nylander in January of 2022 sending Sam Lafferty to the Blackhawks. Nylander a former eighth overall pick has just 34 points in over five seasons (nine games with the Penguins).  At 25 years old, Nylander in efforts to save his career and avoid being a total draft bust, needs to have a good preseason in order to make the NHL roster.

Nylander was re-signed this summer to a one-year deal worth $775,000 thousand dollars. With the Penguins forward depth not the best, this is his best chance to earn a bottom-six role.

Alex Nedeljkovic Looks Sharp In Penguins Debut

Alex Nedeljkovic is still a question mark as the new backup goaltender.  He had a solid rookie season and looked poised to be a great goaltender, however, he fell off since then. The Penguins have a lot of trust that he will become the solid goaltender they think he can be.  The Pens have that much faith in him, that they signed him and traded their former backup in Casey DeSmith.

Nedeljkovic looked solid in his Penguins debut as he stopped all 18 shots he faced. For the Penguins to go back to championship contention, they will need solid goaltending from both Tristan Jarry and Nedeljkovic.

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Sam Poulin Shined In Loss

In the other preseason game, the Penguins took a 4-3 loss to the Blue Jackets in overtime. Sam Poulin who was the Penguins first-rounder in 2019 has three games of NHL experience. Those three games came this past season where he logged an assist. In the loss to CBJ, he had a goal.

Assistant coach Todd Reirden is happy with the development of Poulin. Reiden even mentioned his versatility as he can play both in the middle and in the wing. Like Yager, Poulin most likely will not begin the season on the roster, however, depth is never a bad thing to have.

Penguins hockey returns Tuesday as they play against the Detroit Red Wings. They also have a contest with the Buffalo Sabres slated for Thursday night.

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