Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel was one of nine trillion free agent defenseman the Penguins signed on the opening day of the signing period during the offseason. He was signed for events and purposes such as these where the team’s top defensemen get hurt and he’s needed to play a role.
He’s seemed to outplay some of his defensive counterparts to the point where he hasn’t only gotten the call to the NHL but has stayed there.
He did get very sick over Christmas break and was even admitted to the hospital. He was briefly sent back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton but on a conditioning assignment to gain his strength and timing back. Then, it was right back to the NHL.
He has played a total of nine games this season totaling one goal and three points. Three points is impressive considering he only has five points in 42 career games. He’s preforming solidly on a cohesive team and his point production isn’t what the Penguins are concerned with. His play as a solid defensive defenseman is what may have locked him the spot as the Penguins seventh defenseman once the blue line is healthy.
Guys like David Warsofsky, Derrick Pouliot, and Steven Oleksy haven’t played well in their extensive looks on the blue line. Cameron Gaunce has played decent but hasn’t had the look so far that Ruhwedel has had.
He can skate with the team and moves the puck exceptionally well. At 5’11”, Ruhwedel is a bit smaller than your average defenseman but he doesn’t allow that to deter his game. He has made some nice plays.
In his first game in a Penguins uniform he racked up an assist off of a crisp pass and an eventual goal buried by captain Sidney Crosby.
During Sunday’s game, he made a fake towards the inside of the offsenive zone, stopped and then released a shot to the net in which Patric Hornqvist deposited into the back of the net.
He’s got three less points in nine games than Olli Maatta has in 44. Ruhwedel could be an absolute steal of a seventh defenseman. The Penguins expected him to be a depth guy when they signed him. With the project that Pouliot has become coupled with Warsofsky’s and Oleksy’s struggles, Ruhwedel’s strong play so far has made him a candidate to stay on the roster long term.