Pittsburgh selected Fleury first overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
(CP) -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have decided to start the season with
one recent No. 1 pick on the team and another in the minors.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the first selection in the 2003 draft, was
assigned to Wilkes-Barre of the AHL on Saturday while phenom Sidney
Crosby, the top pick of this year's entry draft, remained with the big
team as the Penguins finalized their season-opening roster.
Also assigned to Wilkes-Barre on Saturday were forwards Colby
Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Matt Hussey, Michel Ouellet and Tomas
Surovy and defencemen Daniel Fernholm, Ryan Lannon, Andy Schneider,
Noah Welch and Ryan Whitney.
"They are all tough decisions. Every year, it's a tough to make
decisions like that because you're dealing with people's livelihoods
and families," Penguins GM Craig Patrick said. "It's tough, but we can
only have 23 guys. Nobody likes it, but it's part of the game, part of
Fleury, who played 21 games for Pittsburgh as a 18-year-old rookie
2003-04, was beat out for the team's backup position by Sebastien
Caron. Jocelyn Thibault will be the team's No. 1 goalie.
The Penguins elected to send Fleury to the minors so that the native
of Sorel, Que., could get a lot of playing time instead of making spot
appearances in Pittsburgh.
"A lot of factors came into it. We looked at camp and we felt that
(Fleury) and Sebastien had pretty similar camps," Patrick said. "And
the role that's going to be needed here, we feel it's better for
Marc-Andre to get a lot of games (in Wilkes-Barre). That's a big part
However, Patrick didn't rule out the possibility of Fleury joining the
big club during the season.
"Winning is the bottom line so that will dictate who plays and who
doesn't play," Patrick said. "It's just the beginning of the season
and it's a long season and things change rapidly."
Crosby, the 18-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S., will make his
long-awaited NHL debut this Wednesday when the Penguins open the
regular season in New Jersey.
Also on Saturday, the Nashville Predators assigned defencemen Kevin
Klein and Shea Weber Milwaukee of the AHL.
In St. Paul, Minn., the Wild recalled winger Matt Foy from Houston of
the AHL and assigned winger Benoit Pouliot to Sudbury of the Ontario