Penguins winger Eric Tangradi has relocated to Wilkes-Barre with his gear and high hopes -- everything but official clearance to play.
It is expected that he will sign an American Hockey League contract before Wilkes-Barre/Scranton opens its training camp Friday.
If not for an NHL lockout, Tangradi instead would be in Penguins camp, looking to improve his standing, perhaps clinch a job on one of the top two lines. Instead, playing in the AHL can serve to keep him busy. The NHL and the NHL Players' Association have not had a negotiating session since the lockout was imposed Sept. 15, but talks are expected to resume Friday.
Tangradi is eligible to sign an AHL deal while his NHL contract is, in effect, suspended, because he was on Wilkes-Barre's clear-day list and its roster at the end of last season.
Tangradi had been participating in the informal practices at Southpointe before Tuesday.
The number of bodies at the workouts will continue to dwindle.
Defenseman Kris Letang leaves over the weekend. He's going to Quebec to play in a series of charity games for locked-out players, a series primarily for French-Canadians and organized in part by former Penguins winger Max Talbot.
Letang said he will shift his base to Montreal for as long as he plays in the charity games. He will continue to skate with a trainer, but said he has benefited from the couple of weeks he has practiced at Southpointe.
"I want to [practice] here, get a good tempo, but, at the same time, they have games that will be good caliber," he said. "I'll take a look at it. If I like it, I'll stay there."
In addition to Letang and Tangradi leaving, defenseman Dylan Reese is expected to go to Wilkes-Barre. Boston's Christian Hanson, a Peters native and the lone non-Penguins skater at the Southpointe workouts, will leave to report to Providence of the AHL.
The 14 Penguins on the ice Tuesday had their most intense practice.
There were drills that produced battles around the net. At one point, forward Craig Adams suggested a drill from their youth called foxhole -- a two-on-two, tight-quarters scrimmage conducted in one corner with the net set up at the closest faceoff dot.
"I think we're just trying to mix it up because it's kind of shocking to the system when you start hitting," said team captain Sidney Crosby, who has been overseeing the drills because former Penguin Jay Caufield has had to miss a few practices.
The players have added contact lately, in particular since Friday when training camp had been scheduled to open.
Crosby, healthy after dealing with concussion and neck problems the past two seasons, welcomes the contact.
"It's a whole other kind of energy system when you're getting hit," he said. "You don't want to get in the habit of not having to move around someone. Once you get up and down the ice, if you're just stickhandling it's a lot different than having to move around a guy, lean on a guy. It's good to get hit a little bit."