The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to see key players move in and out of the lineup, but their healthy top guns don’t seem to mind.
Sidney Crosby and James Neal dominated the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 5-3 win on Sunday. Neal stole the show with a hat trick and two assists, but Crosby wasn’t a slouch in his own right, collecting three more points.
Crosby, 26, now has a ludicrous 58 points in 41 games this season. Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane is the only other NHL player with more than 50 (53, in his case).
One might guess what kind of numbers Neal, 26, would boast if he wasn’t missing time with injuries and suspensions. As it stands, he has an impressive 30 points in 21 contests.
Pittsburgh has now won six of its last seven games with Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup, perpetuating the near-annual refrain “imagine what the Penguins might do with a healthy lineup.” With a 29-11-1 record, the Penguins aren’t too shabby as is.
The Edmonton Oilers have assigned center Leon Draisaitl to AHL Bakersfield.
The demotion of Draisaitl, 19, means 21-year-old rookie Anton Slepyshev has made the opening-day roster after scoring twice and adding two assists in exhibition action.
The Oilers experimented during the preseason with Draisaitl, a natural center, on the wing. He didn’t have a particularly poor camp, finishing with one goal and three assists in six games.
But Slepyshev apparently impressed more.
“He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before,” coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Journal. “You can see it.”
Slepyshev played 58 games in the KHL last season, scoring 15 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
A preseason push by a number of Vancouver Canucks youngsters has left forward Linden Vey and defenseman Frank Corrado on waivers today.
The more surprising name of the two is Corrado, the 22-year-old who entered the season with an excellent chance of making the opening-day roster. However, it seems that rookie d-man Ben Hutton, 22, has been given the nod after finishing an eye-opening preseason with one goal and four assists in seven games. (This despite Hutton being waiver exempt. So it’s a risk for the Canucks, to be sure.)
It was the play of 19-year-old rookie Jared McCann that led, in part, to the waiving of Vey. (For more on that, click here.) Veteran Adam Cracknell remains with the team as well, to some surprise.
Rookie winger Jake Virtanen is also expected to be on Vancouver’s opening-day roster, though that’s no big shock.
Defenseman Alex Biega is also on waivers, as expected.