Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Pens pick up School-uhhhh and Bourque off waivers...Roster at 23
-I predicted the Pens would go after Skoula sometime in July, not in September, a couple of days before opening night. Skoula was placed on waivers on Monday by the Blue Jackets and a day later the Pens picked him and released a series of their own players: Bayda, Conner, Bissonnette, Engelland and Guenin. Bayda agreed to a 2-way contract on Monday which means he can be sent to WBS and play with the big team as well. Only Bissonnette has been lost from the waiver wire so far.
-Bayda worked hard enough in pre-season to earn a spot on the roster, but I guess Shero has other plans. Skoula isn't your household defenseman name but he's very solid in his own zone. I liked him a lot in his Colorado days where he won a Cup and since then he's been playing for 9 seasons and averaging 80 games a year. As a 7th defenseman, he's an excellent luxury to have. This year's Philippe Boucher if you will. Shero was looking for that 7th D-men to be a veteran player for some time now, thus youngsters Engelland and Guenin didn't fall into the Pens plans.
-As the roster was trimmed down to 21, the Skoula signing plus the Chris Bourque signing bring the roster up to 23, where it needs to be. Bourque is the son of hall-of-famer Ray Bourque and at only 23 the kid's got a lot of potential. He hasn't gotten the chance to play everyday at the NHL level, limited to only 12 games and 1 goal to show for it. But the Pens have now filled out the roster and Bourque could be on the 3rd line playing alongside Staal/Cooke on Friday or on the 4th line with Rupp and Godard. Fact is, he should get more playing time than he did in Washington.
-Why was Bourque released? Isn't he a top prospect? The Capitals have had this ongoing issue of trying to deal forward Michael Nylander. Now it turns out he might be a healthy scratch to start the season in favor of some guys much less accomplished than Bourque. Capitals nation is very angry at this specific player going on waivers, especially when he's going to a conference rival in the Pens. Biz Nasty (Bissonnette) has departed for Phoenix and he will be missed. He played with a ton of energy and was a spirited fighter who was always fun to watch. Biz will replace some of the antics and passion that Phoenix lost when another former Pen, Danny Carcillo left town.
-The Pens roster is now officially set and with Crosby healthy (ish) i'm amped up for opening night on Friday. Who will/could be scratched? Dupuis/Adams? Bourque? I'm predicting Bourque will play in the Islander game on Sat night as it will be a back to back situation. Ray Shero has done an excellent job with the waivers this week in picking a quality veteran D-men and an up and coming NHLer in Bourque. As much as we wish it was Rene Bourque from Calgary, we'll stick with this one in the meantime and see what damage he can do. At 5'8 and 180 lbs, Bourque isn't the biggest or toughest guy in the world but he's an extremely fast skater, and his 21 g/52 assists (including 21 pts in 22 post-season games) with the Hershey Bears of the AHL are evidene of that.
In Ray Shero we trust...