Prospects Rambling: Sticking in the NHL takes as long as it takes (Feb. 18)

Mark Allan

2017-02-18

Anaheim defenseman Shea Theodore is singing that old Otis Elevator hit Baby I've Had My Ups and Downs.

 

Shea Theodore is getting a sense of how difficult it used to be to crack an NHL lineup in the Original Six days.

True, there were no international players (with the rare exception of someone like Czechoslovakia-born Stan Mikita), but there were NHL jobs on just six squads.

Competition was fierce, and many NHL-caliber players had to just keep working hard in the minors and wait for their chance to stick in the big league.

For the third time this season, Theodore has been promoted by Anaheim, only to be returned to the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. He was displaced among this week’s NHL transactions by Sami Vatanen, who missed five games with a lower-body injury (LBI).

Theodore, a 2013 first-rounder, undoubtedly has an NHL future as a poised, two-way, playmaking blueliner.

He has, however, just eight points in 30 NHL games this season and a minus-11 rating has regressed badly from plus-7 in 19 games with the Ducks last season. Until Anaheim trades one of its many NHL-caliber defensemen, the Ducks are as deep along the blueline as any NHL team.

In other NHL transactions this week:

Pittsburgh Penguins

  • LW Carl Hagelin missed five games (concussion)
  • RW Josh Archibald assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
  • RW Bryan Rust placed on IR with upper-body injury (UBI)
  • D Olli Maatta placed on IR (hand surgery)
  • D Justin Schultz day to day (concussion)
  • D Cameron Gaunce recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
  • D Steve Oleksy recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL).

Archibald scored twice in his first game after being called up to help offset the loss to injury of Conor Sheary, Hagelin and Rust. However, Archibald didn’t dress for the next two games before being returned to the AHL.

 

An opportunistic Josh Archibald scores a shortie, his second NHL goal and his second in the same game.

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It’s an understatement to say Pittsburgh is deep up front, which is also unfortunate for Rust. He was clicking with Sidney Crosby in Sheary’s absence when he was hurt, possibly for the rest of the season.

Expect swift forward Jake Guentzel to continue to capitalize on his current opportunity and make it impossible for GM Jim Rutherford to demote him the rest of the campaign.

With Maatta expected to miss six weeks and Schultz’s return date uncertain, Gaunce and Oleksy were summoned to bolster the Penguins’ blueline. They are stop-gap measures, and it’s interesting that the organization seems determined to ensure Derrick Pouliot is truly ready for his next promotion.

Washington Capitals

Although a 61st-overall pick in 2013, the less-he