The Penguins reduced their active roster to 23 today, just before heading to Vancouver for their season opener against the Canucks on Thursday.
Defenseman Joseph Morrow, the Penguins’ 2011 first round pick, was sent back to his junior hockey club, the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, following an impressive preseason campaign that lead many to speculate he would start the season with the Penguins.
Justin Williams, Alexandre Picard and Brian Strait were all assigned to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL. Williams and Picard will need to pass through waivers.
Along with the demotions and reassignments, Sidney Crosby, Dustin Jeffrey, Nick Peterson, Robert Bortuzzo and Boris Valabik were placed on injured reserve.
The moves mean that Richard Park, Joe Vitale and Mark Letestu, three players battling for one of the few forward spots remaining, will open the season with the club. Crosby’s return is still indefinite, but Jeffrey could return sooner rather than later, and once that happens, the Penguins will be forced to make another decision.
One minor surprise was Brooks Orpik not being assigned to injured reserve. Orpik, recovering from off-season surgery, did not feature for the Penguins in the preseason. Many speculated that Morrow, would start with the Penguins while Orpik recovered, but apparently that was not the case.