WILKES-BARRE TWP. — A cloud of uncertainty hung over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins during Thursday’s practice at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Penguins are facing a number of questions as they try to break out of a slump that has resulted in 10 losses in the last 14 games.
Will any of the half-dozen injured players be ready to return for either of the two games this weekend?
Will new arrivals be beckoned from Wheeling?
And why was former netminder Sebastien Caron on the ice instead of Michael Leighton during Thursday’s practice?
And late in the day on Thursday, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s lineup was depleted even more when Pitsburgh recalled netminder Casey DeSmith, forward Garrett Wilson and defenseman Andrey Pedan.
As far as anyone returning to the lineup, it appears that forward Greg McKegg will be the only addition. McKegg missed the last three games for family reasons, but he was at Thursday’s practice and will be ready to play on Friday against Hartford, according to Penguins coach Clark Donatelli.
Thomas Di Pauli, who has also missed the last three games, is dealing with an upper-body injury that shouldn’t keep him sidelined for long, Donatelli said. But it’s still unknown just when Di Pauli will return.
Christian Thomas won’t be back until after the new year as he competes with Team Canada in the Spengler Cup in Switzerland.
With defenseman Frank Corrado also up with Pittsburgh, but Ethan Prow practiced and may be healthy enough to take a spot on the blueline. The other vacancy will be filled by either Jeff Taylor or Kevin Spinozzi.
Ruled out for the weekend are defenseman Lukas Bengtsson and forwards Tom Kostopoulos and Tom Sestito.
Donatelli said the absences are a chance for other players to get some ice time and show what they can do. That’s fine, but the goaltender situation is even more in flux with DeSmith’s call-up.
Caron, who played with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from 2000 to 2006, including parts of three seasons with Pittsburgh, manned the net opposite DeSmith during practice. The 37-year old Caron was just helping out and isn’t mounting a comeback attempt, but where was Leighton?
The veteran netminder was injured during warmups before Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Lehigh Valley and he’s day-to-day with a lower body injury.
With two games this weekend and both of Donatelli’s goaltenders unavailable, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton signed Anthony Peters, who was with the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL, and Wheeling netminder to Adam Morrison to professional tryout agreements.
Peters appeared in three games for the Penguins this season, posting a 5.01 goals against average and .857 save percentage.
Morrison was last with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during the team’s training camp prior to the 2016-17 season. This year with Wheeling, Morrison has a 2-7-0 record, 3.04 goals against average and .900 save percentage.
• F Cody Wydo was re-assigned to Wheeling on Thursday, leaving the Penguins with 12 healthy forwards.