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NHL Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins Keep Simon Despres, Return Beau Bennett, Others to AHL

Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports

A few of the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ top prospects – including defenseman Simon Despres and winger Beau Bennett – took part in the team’s training camp this week and even more participated in the Black vs. Gold scrimmage the team held last night at the Consol Energy Center. Less than 24 hours later, the team made a series of cuts that established the 23-man roster the Penguins will carry at least to begin the season.

After spending some time during camp on Evgeni Malkin‘s left wing, Bennett was returned to the team’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre, where he’s dominated the first half of the season. This means Eric Tangradi will get the first look as the potential third piece to Malkin and James Neal‘s line.

The team also sent center Jayson Megna back to Wilkes-Barre. Megna didn’t have much of a shot to make the team, so neither of these moves comes as a surprise.

Despres, however, had a different fate. Despite a less-than-impressive showing in last night’s scrimmage, Despres will stick with the Penguins to begin the season. The 21-year-old hasn’t dominated the AHL this season as much as the team would have liked, but the coaching staff believes he’s ready to take the next step toward becoming a full-NHLer. He’s been seeing time on the team’s top pairing along with Kris Letang lately in camp and did so again last night.

Brian Strait was waived to make room for Despres. He’s a serviceable bottom pairing defenseman and I wouldn’t be surprised if a team claimed him by the waiver deadline at noon on Friday.

Center Philippe Dupuis was also waived.

The team’s roster is set at 13 forwards, eight defensemen and goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun.

They’ll hold practice on Friday before heading east to play the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening game of the 2013 NHL season.

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