For the second straight practice, Kris Letang skated alongside defenseman Rob Scuderi and worked with Paul Martin on the Penguins' top power-play unit on Thursday at Southpointe.
Head coach Dan Bylsma said after practice that Letang, who has been out with a lower-body injury since Sept. 27, will “most likely” make his season debut on Friday against the New York Islanders at CONSOL Energy Center.
“As we've seen in practice this week, (Wednesday) and (Thursday), Kris Letang has moved into situations and a pairing that we will most likely see him in the game (Friday) with,” Bylsma said.
Forwards James Neal (upper body) and Beau Bennett (lower body), who are both on injured reserve, were the only two skaters missing. Bylsma had no update on either player following practice. Forward Matt D'Agostini practiced and is eligible to return from long-term injured reserve on Saturday.
On Wednesday the Pens re-assigned Chris Conner and Harry Zolniercyzk to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, and this morning the team announced that they had recalled Jayson Megna after placing Bennett on IR retroactive to Oct. 12.
Megna skated on the third line with Tanner Glass and Brandon Sutter at Thursday's practice, while Deryk Engelland moved up to play forward on the fourth line. Here’s how the lines looked…
After the defensemen went through the initial rushes with these pairs – Orpik-Martin, Scuderi-Letang, Maatta-Niskanen – the six of them rotated with Bortuzzo.
MEGNA BRINGS NHL SPEED: Megna will be looking to make his NHL debut on Friday against the Islanders. He earned the call-up to Pittsburgh after a tremendous start to his sophomore season, with three goals, five points and a plus-8 rating through the first six games.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “There’s just a lot of different emotions that go with this. I’m obviously very excited, a little nervous, but this is fun. I’m having a lot of fun with it and going to soak it all in. I’ve obviously worked my whole life to get here so it’s nice to finally be here. I want to help contribute and help the team win games.”
Megna’s biggest asset is his skating, which he has used to be a factor on the penalty kill with WBS. He leads the AHL with two shorthanded goals – both of them game-winners – and three shorthanded points.
“Jayson, he's got NHL speed,” Bylsma said. “He's a fast skater, brings speed to the game with some skill and ability and some jam, and that's what he's done this year in Wilkes-Barre. He's had that speed and he's been able to be effective with it.
“He's used it on the penalty kill and been effective offensively with that speed and skill and that's something we're looking for from him. He's shown that in the first six games in Wilkes-Barre and now getting that opportunity with us.”