New Pittsburgh forward Daniel Winnik practiced with his new team for the first time Saturday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center and will make his Pens debut Sunday night against Columbus.
“It’s nice to get here,” Winnik said. “I skated a couple of times on my own, but I was fortunate with the timing of the trade that we played Wednesday and not again until Sunday. So it gave me time to pack up and move here.”
Winnik, who was acquired by the Pens on Wednesday from Toronto in exchange for Zach Sill, a 2015 fourth-round pick and 2016 second-round pick, had to wait to join his new team until he was given visa clearance.
“It’s tough waiting for the visa,” Winnik said. “I got in (Friday) night. I came in this morning (to meet the coaches). We went over system stuff and logistics.”
Learning a new system can be difficult. However, Winnik has played for five different teams in his eight-year NHL career. So he knows the routine of getting acclimated to new systems and new teammates.
“Since I’ve been through it before it will be pretty easy,” Winnik said. “Not many teams play different systems. It’s a tad different here than it was in Toronto. But it won’t take too long to get accustomed to.”
Winnik worked on the Pens’ third line with Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie. He also participated in the team’s PK drills.
“I told (Winnik) today, like anybody else coming into a new team, it’s just settling in, getting a framework of what we do,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “He’s going to be a big part of our penalty kill so sitting down with (assistant coach) Gary Agnew and talking about the kill, working through that with him. And then just getting in and playing and sort of building from there.”
Johnston did say that the wingers on the bottom two lines will be mixed and matched with Sutter and Maxim Lapierre. But Sutter is excited to have a player like Winnik on his wing.
“Every time there’s a new guy there’s always that energy and excitement and hopefully he can bring a new dynamic to the team,” Sutter said. “He’s going to be a good fixture with the bottom six of us, so it’ll be fun to see how he does and he seems like a pretty smart guy, a smart player. He’s been around a while so it shouldn’t take him long to get in the groove here and he’ll be a big part down the stretch.”
SCUDERI PRACTICES Pens defenseman Rob Scuderi was hit on the skate by a shot Wednesday night in Washington in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 win against the Capitals. He could not finish the game.
Scuderi missed the team’s practice on Thursday and the team had a day off on Friday. However, Scuderi was back on the ice for practice Saturday. Scuderi said he felt “fine” after practice and that the days off were good for him.
“When you put on your skate after you get hit in the foot, it’s always a concern,” Johnston said. “But he seemed to have no problem. He said, ‘I feel good out there.’
“By the way he was practicing, I think he’s going to be fine. He’s a tough guy. It takes a lot to keep him out of the lineup. And even the other night, we were surprised he left the game and went into the trainers’ room. They decided to X-ray it. But usually if he does that, he’s in a lot of pain. It seems to have settled down.”