The Pittsburgh Penguins have a myriad of injuries and their last game against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday saw them go without defenseman Kris Letang and lost forward Evgeni Malkin during it.
Defenseman Philip Samuelsson and forward Harry Zolnierczyk have been recalled from the American Hockey League to help fill those holes in the lineup. Letang was placed on injured reserve to make room for them.
With a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at home tonight, the Penguins need bodies. The Penguins were already without forwards Beau Bennett, Tanner Glass, and Andrew Ebbett. Adding Malkin to the mix of the skating wounded up front makes Zolnierczyk a necessity.
Letang missing the game Saturday meant the Pens were without their top four blue liners. Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi, and Brooks Orpik are all out with separate injuries and Brian Dumoulin had to make his NHL debut against Detroit. The team
If Samuelsson plays, it’ll be his first game in the league. He was a second-round pick of the Penguins back in 2009. Yes, he is the son of former NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson. It’s probably a good thing they’re not facing the Bruins considering Ulf’s history against them.
UPDATE: Letang will be out until after Christmas, according to head coach Dan Bylsma. Same goes for Scuderi (broken ankle). Glass will be back in 3-5 days.
It’s likely that plenty of hockey fans cringe whenever they hear the name Ulf Samuelsson. For many, the former NHL defenseman will be remembered for his over-the-line hits (most notably his notorious knee-to-knee on Cam Neely) more than winning two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins or anything else he accomplished during in his 16-year career.
Hockey fans might want to get used to the name Samuelsson, though, as it seems like his progeny have a solid future in the NHL. The Penguins took Ulf’s son – and fellow blueliner – Philip (with Ulf in this post’s main image) in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and USA Today’s Kevin Allen listed right winger Henrik as the fifth best U.S.-born player eligible for the 2012 draft today.
Henrik scored 11 points and tallied (an Ulf-inspired?) 74 penalty minutes in 27 games with the USHL. While his dad will coach the top Modo team next season, Allen reports that Henrik will play for Modo Jr.
One other interesting name on that list is Allen’s top ranked American-born player Alex Galchenyuk. The center plays alongside probable top overall pick Nail Yakupov for the Sarnia Sting and his more well-rounded style spurs some to wonder if he might actually end up being a better fit for the NHL than the dazzling Russian winger.
Three defensemen round out the 2-4 spots on Allen’s list: James Trouba, Nick Ebert (whose last name seems like a natural fit for awful “two thumbs up/down” type jokes) and Jordan Schmaltz. From everything I’ve heard, the 2012 draft features a deep and talented group of players, so there’s no guarantee that being a top American prospect will mean that all five of these players will become first round picks.
Still, those of you who are more interested in prospects might want to keep an eye out for those five players. Opposing players would probably be wise to keep an eye out for Henrik Samuelsson in particular, at least if that on-ice nastiness runs in the family.
The Swedish Elite League team MODO continues to stockpile recently (or semi-recently) retired NHL players. TSN reports that Ulf Samuelsson will leave his post as one of the Phoenix Coyotes’ assistant coaches to be the head coach for MODO.
Samuelsson joins assistant general manager Peter Forsberg and general manager Markus Naslund as noteworthy former-NHLers who will run the Swedish professional hockey team.
Samuelsson was an assistant coach with the Coyotes since 2006, including two successful seasons alongside head coach Dave Tippett. Many people give Samuelsson a lot of credit for the impressive development of defenseman Keith Yandle, a player quietly rising to elite status.
Many will also remember Samuelsson as a player whose controversial knee-to-knee hit helped cut short the career of Boston Bruins power forward Cam Neely. He delivered that hit as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Samuelsson also played for the Hartford Whalers, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers during his 17-year NHL career.