The Pittsburgh Penguins have a scant group of prospects playing at the Canadian major junior and junior-A levels of hockey. For a variety of reasons, the Penguins organization drafted only two players from the CHL over the past two seasons and has only one player currently playing in the USHL.
Tristan Jarry, G, Edmonton Oil Kings
Acquired: 2nd round (44th overall), 2013
At his current rate, Jarry will be hard pressed to match his 44 wins from the 2013-14 season, but he is nonetheless putting together another solid year as the starter for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He is seeing a few more shots per game than last season, as the Oil Kings team in front of him is a far cry from their Memorial Cup winning roster last spring, but his .913 save percentage and 2.52 goals average not too far removed last season’s totals.
Jarry is a very good technical goaltender who possesses a great deal of athleticism and plays his angles well. He is pretty aggressive in the net and will come out to challenge shooters. However, he gets caught swimming in the crease occasionally and needs to further improve his puck-handling skills. He has also been guilty of laying a few eggs this season, allowing four or more goals on five different occasions.
Although he possesses a high draft pedigree and is well regarded as a goaltending prospect, Jarry is relatively inexperienced as a fulltime starter. So the best thing for his development is to see lots of starts, win or lose.
Jaden Lindo, RW/LW, Owen Sound Attack
Acquired: 6th round (173rd overall), 2014
Jaden Lindo is finally back to disrupting opposing defensemen for the Owen Sound Attack. A big, tough winger, Lindo underwent knee surgery last March and was not able to lace up his skates until November 6th, 2014. Although not offensively dynamic, Lindo is easy to spot on the ice, as he plays with a high motor and is always looking to deliver a bone-crunching body check.
For Lindo, the 2014-15 OHL regular season will be about finding some level of consistency in his offensive game. He is very strong and is good at battling for the puck along the walls and in the corners, but he does not always seem to know what to do when he has the puck on his stick. He is very good at using his big, strong frame to screen the goaltender, particularly on the powerplay.
He has played eight games so far this season and has produced two goals.
Anthony Angello, C/W, Omaha Lancers
Acquired: 5th round (145th overall), 2014
The Penguins have a long history of drafting players who are headed to the NCAA. None, in recent history anyway, have possessed the size and nasty disposition of Anthony Angello. Scheduled to join Cornell University in 2015-16, Angello embraced the role of a power forward early on and understands the expectations that come with his 6’5 frame. He does a good job of creating chaos around the net and in the corners, and he is very strong on the puck. He is also extremely tough, will take a hit to make a play, and is a willing fighter if called upon.
Angello is a physically dominating presence at the USHL level, and while there is every reason to think he will be able to continue to dominate players with his size in the NCAA, he does need to round out the rest of his game. He does not always keep his feet moving and has been accused of floating on the ice at times as a result.
He currently has four goals and one assist through 15 games with the Omaha Lancers. The Lancers have had an odd season thus far, going 0-5-2 at home and 5-2-1 on the road, and have struggled mightily to score goals.
Pittsburgh Penguins Top Performing Non-Junior Prospects: October
Forward Beau Bennett made his latest return from injury on November 11th. Coming back from a knee injury suffered in preseason play, Bennett was held off the scoresheet for his first three games of the season. However, he exploded offensively in his fourth game, a November 18th tilt against the Montreal Canadiens, and managed a goal and two assists. Bennett is projected to flank Brendan Sutter for the season, but will probably be promoted to top six duties alongside either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, especially now that winger Pascal Dupuis is out indefinitely because of a blood clot in his lung.
Forward Jake Guentzel began the 2014-15 season at an incredible rate, posting four goals and five assists in his first four games, but was injured in his fifth game of the season after taking a hit from a Cornell player. He returned to the ice on November 21st, in a 3-2 loss against Minnesota-Duluth. As long as he can stay healthy, Guentzel should be one of the top point-producers in the NCAA this year. He has 11 points through seven games this season.
Teddy Blueger is another Penguins collegiate prospect who is having a breakout offensive year. After a rough start, where he managed three points in his first five games, Blueger has been on fire. He has eight points, including a hat trick against Bemidji State, in his last seven games. On the year, Blueger has six goals and five assists through 12 games.
The Penguins AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, had a rough start to the 2014-15 season, going 5-4-1 in October. The squad has since put together a few small win streaks and stands at 11-8-1-0, but the offense remains a work in progress. Rookie forwards Jean-Sebastien Dea, Scott Wilson, and Bryan Rust have all had solid starts to the professional careers. Dea has 12 points while Wilson and Rust each have 11, and all have been fairly consistent in their production. Goaltender Matt Murray meanwhile did an excellent job of keeping the Penguins afloat following an injury in late October to Jeff Zatkoff. In nine starts, Murray managed a 4-3-1 record, a 2.37 goals against average, and a .902 save percentage.
Top prospect Derrick Pouliot is also having a strong start to his professional career. Sidelined through training camp and the preseason because of a shoulder injury, Pouliot made his 2014-15 season debut on October 21st against the Albany Devils. Through 14 AHL games, the young defenseman has shown flashes of dominance, particularly on the powerplay, where he has two goals. Still, it will take at least one, if not multiple injuries at the NHL level for Pouliot to be recalled this season, but he does not seem long for the AHL.
Pittsburgh Penguins Prospect of the Month: October
When Kasperi Kapanen was returned to Kalpa following the Penguins NHL training camp, he was expected to be extremely productive, if not dominate. Early on, those expectations have been met. Kapanen was extremely productive in his first six games of the season, producing three goals and three assists. He fell of the radar for the beginning of November but took his game to another level recently, in a November 18th, 5-0 rout against Vaasan Sport. Through 11 Finnish Liiga games this season, Kapanen has six goals, four assists, and 53 shots on net while averaging 18:14 minutes per game.
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