The Pittsburgh Penguins roster is ready for effectively ready for opening night. Friday, the Penguins placed defenseman David Warsofsky and forward Kevin Porter on waivers Friday, for the purpose of assigning them to the WBS Penguins. The moves mean enforcer Tom Sestito will stick with the Penguins as the 13th forward, at least until speedy winger Bryan Rust returns from injury.
Sestito, 29, signed with the Penguins in 2016. The Rome, New York native registered 14 points (5g, 9a) and 104 penalty minutes in 41 games for the WBS Penguins. Sestito also played four games for the Penguins, notched one assist, 19 penalty minutes including one fighting major, and 13 hits.
Sestito’s performance in the NHL last season showed flashes of competitive ability, but also struggles. Sestito struggled in his second game, March 8th against the Islanders, but had a strong game against the Capitals April 7th, including a nifty assist.
On April 9th, with second place in the Metro Division secured, the Penguins rested stars Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang for a road game against the Philadelphia Flyers. In 8:18 of ice time, Sestito dished four hits, including a hard hit on Flyers center Ryan White. The hit led to Sestito’s only NHL fighting major last season, though his opponent Chris Vandevelde received only a minor penalty. Sestito received a dubious interference penalty, the fighting major, and a 10-minute game misconduct.
Since 2007-08, Sestito has 42 NHL fighting majors in 141 games and 67 AHL fighting majors, per HockeyFights.com. However, the Penguins challenged Sestito to be more effective on the forecheck. This preseason, Sestito has demonstrated enough hockey ability, albeit against lesser competition, to give the Penguins
an excuse a reason to keep the 6′-4″ bruiser. Sestito has displayed competitive foot speed and play in addition to dropping the gloves with an old nemesis, Jordin Tootoo.
The move to keep Sestito is also an acknowledgment 13th forwards do not get much ice. The team is more comfortable keeping a veteran in the role to let younger players, such as Jake Guentzel, further develop at the AHL level.
Though some fans, especially in the analytics community, may find Sestito’s core skills distasteful, he has important supporters inside the Penguins locker room:
Pretty cool: Crosby signed a stick for Tom Sestito’s newborn, Killian, saying he feels a foot taller with Dad on ice pic.twitter.com/WNydJ8fLJC
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) April 15, 2016
Sestito could stick after Rust returns from injury as the 14th forward, but it seems unlikely the Penguins would carry two extra forwards because the team has limited cap space.
Warsofsky, 26, split time between the Penguins and WBS Penguins last season before being claimed by the New Jersey Devils on waivers. In 22 NHL games, 12 with the Penguins, Warsofsky scored one goal and one assist.
The Penguins could ice their regular season lineup in today’s preseason finale against Columbus, at the PPG Paints Arena. Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal for the Penguins. Face-off is at 3pm. The Penguins distributed nearly 18,000 tickets for the game to local youth hockey teams.