Penguins prospect and pending RFA Lukas Bengtsson has signed with Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League. An undersized defensman, Bengtsson had strong skating and a surprisingly robust defensive game to supplement his obvious puck moving ability. Rumors of his desire to head back to the SHL surfaced in early April, but nothing had come to fruition until today.
This is disappointing but understandable news. His health issues have been noted thoroughly, suffering through POTS through his first year in North America, limiting him to 16 games, and then a concussion and a lower body injury preventing him from making much of an impact in his 2nd season, where he appeared in 37 regular season and 3 playoff games for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. A desire to return home is one that can be understood and a wish to play in a less physical league.
Given his RFA status, Bengtsson will likely remain Penguins property for the foreseeable future and if he wishes to return to North America after his 3 year contract with Linkoping expires, the Penguins would be the team he returns to.
The impact of this for the Penguins is somewhat offset by the arrival of Riikola from Finland, but it does leave the Penguins RD depth chart looking a little barren as Dane Birks is the only RD currently under contract with Ethan Prow and Frankie Corrado both entering restricted free agency. Expect the Penguins to add at least one veteran RD option in the offseason.